THIEVES who snatched bags from two pensioners in the space of 15 minutes have been branded ‘despicable’ by police.

A 75-year-old woman and an 80-year-old woman were targeted in Brierfield on Sunday evening.

At 5.45pm thieves snatched a carrier bag containing a cake stand, paper plates and an umbrella from the woman in Walter Street.

The same group of men are believed to have snatched a handbag from the shoulder of the 80-year-old woman 15 minutes later as she made her way to church along Halifax Road, taking a pair of glasses and a bus pass.

Inspector Paul Goodall, from Lancashire Police, said: “This is a despicable crime. To target elderly people in this way is absolutely awful.

“We are working to help the victims get over these incidents but they have both been left shaken.

“I think the public will be appalled at what has happened and I would appeal for anybody with information to get in touch with police.

“The people who did this might think it is a bit of a laugh. It’s not. It’s a shocking crime that has left two elderly victims very upset.”

Police said they are looking at CCTV footage from the area to try to identify the culprits, while also appealing to the public for their help.

Insp Goodall said the victims in both incidents had described the attackers as a group of Asian men.

He said: “You would imagine that these incidents are almost certainly going to be linked.

“It is not so much about what has been taken but the fact that the victims targeted were elderly members of the community.”

Anybody with information is asked to call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.