A CCTV appeal has been launched after two women aged in their 80s had their purses stolen on the same day.

Police said sometime between 1.30pm and 2pm on Thursday, October 18, a woman aged in her 80s had her purse stolen from her bag while she shopping in South Street in Dorchester.

Her bank card was then used to withdraw £500 from Lloyds bank and to carry out three further transactions in the town centre totalling more than £200.

Following enquiries, officers have obtained CCTV images of two women believed to have been using the stolen card.

Between 12.45pm and 1.30pm on the same day, another woman aged in her 80s had her purse stolen while shopping in the town centre and her bank card was used for a transaction at the Co-op store in Trinity Street for £21.78.

Police also released a CCTV image of a man who is believed to have used the card at the Co-op store.

However in an update on Thursday, police said a man has come forward following this appeal.

They said a 22-year-old man from Oxfordshire has contacted police and is assisting officers with their investigation and is not being treated as a suspect. 

Police community support investigator Lauren Gibbins, of Dorset Police, said: “At this stage we have no evidence to suggest these two incidents are related but we are continuing to make enquiries and I am issuing the CCTV images of all three suspects in the hope that someone might recognise them.

“I would also urge residents to remain alert to potential purse thieves and to keep your bags secure at all times. Never carry your PIN on you, particularly in a purse or wallet.”

Dorchester town councillor Carolyn Biggs said it was shocking elderly people had been targeted. 

She said: "It’s shocking for people in their 80s to be targeted who are presumably even more vulnerable. If it had been one theft I may have thought it was a one off but two makes me think they are being targeted probably because they are less able to run after a perpetrator. 

“It’s really quite sad that these things are happening in our little town. If anyone saw anything, please report it to the police.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55180169105.

Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.