Constable Matthew Lee, from the Kelmscott local policing team, said about five handbags had been stolen from shoppers at Coles in Kelmscott over the past few weeks.
‘Two of the victims were 80 and one was in a gopher,’ he said. ‘They appear to be targeting the vulnerable.’
Police are investigating security footage of the offender, described as a dark skinned woman of slim build and are urging members of the public to be vigilant when it comes to protecting personal items.
Mr Lee said handbags should not be left in a trolley where they can easily be targeted, only minimal amounts of cash should be kept in wallets and purses, and people needed to be mindful of distractions as thieves often worked in pairs in an attempt to divert attention.
Bags should not be hung on the back of chairs in cafes and thieves also reach over and attempt to steal bags hanging on the back of toilet doors, he said.
On Monday last week, a woman posted on the Crime Watch Armadale Facebook page that a dark skinned woman, in her mid 40s, had tried to steal her purse at Kelmscott in Woolworths.
After an unsuccessful attempt, the thief then targeted an elderly woman’s purse, but raced out of the shop when she was seen.
The post generated a string of comments from residents who had either heard or seen the same thing happening.
Mr Lee said it appeared that the offender was targeting supermarkets on Monday, when people were stocking up after the weekend, and on Thursday, when elderly people received their pension payment.
The Kelmscott policing team will be at Stargate Shopping Centre in Kelmscott on Thursday, May 15, from 12 to 2pm handing out pamphlets on how to prevent theft.
If you have information that can help, call Armadale Police on 9399 0222.