Shops donate gifts to 88-year-old who suffered theft and bereavement in the same week

Maria-Carmen Melguizo (centre) with PC Holly Bird (left) and PCSO Debbie Daniels (right). Photo: Her

Maria-Carmen Melguizo (centre) with PC Holly Bird (left) and PCSO Debbie Daniels (right). Photo: Herts Police. - Credit: Archant

An 88-year-old woman has been inundated by gifts after bravely giving chase after the thief who snatched her handbag.

Maria-Carmen Melguizo was getting into her silver Nissan Micra in the Ridgeview car park on Barnet Road in London Colney when a man stole her handbag between 8.30-9pm on Sunday January 14.

She tried to chase the man towards Halsey Park, but did not catch him, and her handbag was eventually returned without the cash inside.

Maria said: “I couldn’t believe that this man had taken my bag and I followed him. I’m so ashamed that I didn’t catch him. Then I realised I wasn’t as young as I used to be!

“It is frustrating he hasn’t been caught, but I’m still going to visit my friends on Barnet Road and I’m not going to be scared of anyone after living here for over 30 years.

“I can’t fault the police for the support they have given me and going to the trouble of getting me so many gifts has left me totally speechless.”

Maria was given a large hamper from Marks & Spencer, jam and biscuits from florist Lily Alley, flowers from Sainsbury’s, gift vouchers from Next and gifts and perfume from Boots.

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She was presented with the gifts at her home in London Colney last Thursday by London Colney officer PC Holly Bird.

PC Bird said: “I wanted to recognise this lady’s bravery, show the victim-focused side of policing and re-appeal for any witnesses.

“Although Maria is not your typical 88-year-old, she was probably targeted because she is an older lady.”

Maria and her two sisters had lived in London Colney for 35 years after training as nurses in Shenley.

She began living with them after their husbands died, but her youngest sister passed away in the same week as the theft.

PC Bird said: “It would be really satisfying to catch the man who stole this woman’s purse, especially as she has been through so much recently.”

The offender is described as white, aged between 16 and 20, about 5ft 6ins tall, and of slim build with dark brown hair.

Anyone who has information can call 101 and give crime reference number F3/18/100.