A purse thief is on the loose in the Amber Valley – sparking an urgent police warning and increased patrols.
Four elderly women have had their purses stolen while shopping in towns in the area.
All the incidents, which have taken place over the last month, have been in Ripley, Heanor and Alfreton.
The most recent took place at about 11am on Tuesday, December 22.
An 84-year-old woman had her purse, which contained cash, stolen from her handbag while she was shopping in Lidl on Mansfield Road, Alfreton.
A similar crime happened at the British Red Cross shop on Oxford Street, Ripley, on the same day between 1pm and 1.30pm.
An 83-year-old also had her purse stolen from her handbag.
Officers are urging shoppers to be vigilant and increased police patrols are also being carried out in towns in the area.
PCSO Chris Hart, of the Alfreton Town Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: PCSO Hart added: “Four elderly ladies were sadly targeted in these incidents so I would encourage shoppers to look out for friends and relatives and I would also encourage them to be safer shoppers.
“Shoppers should make it more difficult for thieves by making sure their purse, wallet and other valuables are hidden away in a zipped bag.
“It’s also advisable to only carry just the money you need and to use devices such as purse chains or bells which will make it more difficult for purses to be stolen, acting as a deterrent and alerting you to anything suspicious.
“If you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of this type of crime, contact the police immediately and also remember to cancel all credit and debit cards with the relevant banks as soon as possible.”
Witnesses or anyone with information about the incidents should call police on 101.