Ilford priest warns worshippers about daring handbag thief

A priest has warned worshippers to be on their guard after a spate of bag thefts during church services.

The same bag-snatcher struck at St Mary’s church and St Peter and St Pauls, both in High Road Ilford, as well as once at St Johns, Stratford, last week.

Police are looking for a Polish woman who is said to have befriended church goers before the service before taking their handbags when they got up to take communion. The woman also helped regular church goers to serve tea and coffee after the service.

Fr Gareth Jones, from St Mary’s, said: “All three incidents are linked and police have identified who it is.

“I want to warn people that this person has been operating in the area and they should take care with their belongings.”

So far a total of four handbags have been stolen.

The suspect is described as in her “early thirties”. She always wears a pink scarf around her face and carries a satchel into which she secretes the stolen items.

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She was wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and black shoes.

Anyone with information should call the police on 101.