TWO elderly women were victims of thieves in Billericay High Street in separate incidents just 20 minutes apart.

One incident reportedly occurred in the British Heart Foundation shop on Friday lunchtime, with the other in Poundland, leaving them in shock.

The two victims did not know each other and were not together.

One woman had her whole bag reportedly stolen, with another having items taken out of her bag including her purse, bus pass, keys and bank cards.

Billericay resident Tracy Dobney, who helped one of the victims when they realised they had been targeted by a pickpocket, said she could not believe it had happening, especially with the elderly being targeted.

She told the Echo: “I helped one of the ladies who realised her belongings had gone when she went to pay for her shopping.

“A female worker who works in Iceland kindly paid for the lady’s shopping too. “We then together went and tracked her steps and to see if we could recover any CCTV, but we had no luck with that.

“After that I arranged to have her dropped home.

“The poor lady is in shock.”

She added: “In between all of this, we were then liaising with the family of another elderly woman who had lost her bag too, which was later seen on CCTV with someone else.

“It breaks my heart seeing all these vulnerable ladies being put at risk just simply going about doing their little bit of shopping. “Many people were trying to help, and are livid, because you want to take matter into your own hands, but police tell you not too even when they aren’t there to help.

“I am so angry.”

Reports on social media suggested the other woman who had her bag stolen had her phone and cards found by a bin, but her bag, driving licence, and keys are still missing.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “We’re aware of the recent thefts of bags that have occurred in Billericay. We want to reiterate that we are taking the reports very seriously and investigating. Firstly, we are completing our enquiries, which include working with the local shops and council to identify the suspects and gain evidence to ensure those responsible are put before court.

“Secondly, our dedicated Billericay town team are aware of the recent incidents and will be conducting a mixture of high visibility and plain clothes patrols.”