Longbenton pensioner 'disgusted' a passing driver stole her bag after she fell during Storm Malik

Credit: NCJ Media

A pensioner has spoken out after a heartless thief stole her handbag after she was blown over during Storm Malik.

As gusts of up to 93mph battered the North East in January, Pauline Maughan was knocked off her feet whilst on her way to her local shops in Longbenton.

As the 77-year-old lay helpless on the pavement, a callous driver jumped out his car to steal Pauline's bag, which had blown into the road.

Police are still hunting the thief, who drove away as kind strangers came to Pauline's aid.

The great-grandmother said: "It just makes me feel sick. It's just disgusting that somebody would do that. They have just taken advantage of somebody falling."

Pauline was walking from her home on West Farm Avenue to the nearby Boulevard Shopping Centre when the incident happened, on the morning of Saturday 29 January.

As she approached the road, a gust of wind caught her shopping trolley and she was blown off her feet as she tried to keep hold of it.

Kind hearted strangers came to Pauline's aid, as the passing driver took the opportunity to snatch her handbag. Credit: NCJM

A woman who had been standing at the nearby bus stop with her two children came to help Pauline.

But as she did the driver of a grey car noticed her handbag had come out of her trolley and blown into the road. So he stopped his car, took the bag, then drove off.

Thankfully the woman who was helping Pauline noticed that the pensioner's purse had come out of her bag, so all the thief got for his troubles were a few letters, family photographs, and two custom made Elvis facemasks.

Pauline was taken to hospital for X-rays but was not seriously hurt.

However, the retired fish factory worker is furious that someone would take advantage of the situation in this way."They must have seen me fall because they were driving past," said Pauline. "It was frightening at the time because I was crossing the road and if there had been a car coming I could have been hit."It could have been someone really badly hurt. You never think the wind is strong enough to take you off your feet."

Pauline was on her way to the Boulevard Shopping Centre in Longbenton when she was blown down by a strong gust of wind.

Pauline's bag has still not been recovered and Northumbria Police is appealing for information.

A spokeswoman said: "Officers are appealing for witnesses after a pensioner’s handbag was stolen in Longbenton.

"It was reported that between 10.45am and 11.15am on January 29, a 77-year-old woman had fallen over and dropped her handbag on West Farm Avenue near the Charnwood Public House, due to the strong winds.

"The woman’s bag has then blown into the road and into the path of an oncoming grey car. The male driver has then stopped and alighted the vehicle, before taking the bag and leaving the area.

"It is believed several members of the public stopped and offered assistance to the woman at the scene, and as part of the ongoing investigation, officers would be keen to hear from them, or anyone else who thinks they may have information."