SHOPPERS in Weymouth and Dorchester have been targeted by thieves today.

Offenders have stolen items including purses and phones from five people, all aged between 50 and 70, across the area.

Detectives are urging the public to take care and make sure their handbags and personal items are secure while out and about in the area.

PCSO Mark Wodarek-Black told the Echo that the thefts in Dorchester and Weymouth could be connected, but that it was 'difficult to say' at this stage.

Two woman and a man told officers they were targeted at around midday in Weymouth, while in the vicinity of Marks and Spencers.

A further two woman also reported purse and phone thefts from their handbags at around 1.30pm in the county town, while they were near Clintons and the Card Factory.

Detective Inspector Steve Foot, of Dorchester Police, said: “All of these crimes have a common approach.

“If people take care and keep bags closed and take steps to keep their items safe, all of these crimes can be prevented.

“Victims of these crimes are not usually aware until later on.”

PCSO Wodarek-Black said: “One lady in Dorchester lost her only phone and she was really upset and we will be visiting her this evening.

“These crimes can be very upsetting, especially when people lose sentimental items including photos in purses.”

The Dorchester South Safer Neighbourhood Team meets every Thursday at Dorchester Library between 10.30am and 2.30am, where crime prevention tips and advice will be given.