A pensioner who chased a thief who stole her handbag was given gifts by local stores.

PC Holly Bird, from the London Colney, St Stephen and St Albans East Safer Neighbourhood Team, asked local shop for donations to give to an 88-year old who chased a man who stole her handbag,

Maria-Carmen Melguizo was getting into her car in the Ridgeview car park in Barnet Road between 8.30pm and 9pm on January 14 when the man grabbed her handbag.

She chased him towards Halsey Park but though police have not caught the man, her handbag was returned without the cash inside.

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

"It would be really satisfying to catch the man who stole this woman’s purse, especially as she has been through so much recently."

Ms Melguizo lived in London Colney with her two sisters after their husbands died, and in the week of the theft her youngest sister had died.

The three sisters had lived in London Colney for 35 years after training as nurses in Shenley.

Ms Melguizo 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 but then I realised I wasn’t as young as I used to be!

"It is frustrating that 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 for going to the trouble of getting me so many gifts has left me totally speechless."

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

The items donated included a large hamper from Marks and Spencer, jam and biscuits from florist Lily Alley, flowers from Sainsbury’s, gift vouchers from Next and gifts and perfume from Boots.

If you saw anything on January 14 or have any information, contact Hertfordshire Constabulary on 101.