Hampstead grandmother, 80, chased bag snatcher on moped who stole photos of late husband

Davina Benson, 80, had her handbag snatched while unloading her shopping. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Davina Benson, 80, had her handbag snatched while unloading her shopping. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A grandmother chased a scooter-riding thief who snatched her handbag as she stood on her own doorstep.

Davina Benson, who was 80 the next day, pursued the thief after he pulled up and grabbed her handbag containing treasured photographs of her late husband at about 4.30pm last Thursday.

She managed to grab the handlebars before he had time to rev the engine, but as she shouted for him to return the bag, the man shoved her aside and sped off.

Mrs Benson, who has lived in Daleham Gardens, Hampstead, for 52 years, said: “He probably looked at me and thought I was an easy target.

“The audacity was unbelievable. I was unpacking something from my car in my front drive and the bag was at my feet. He pulled up, walked in the gate and snatched the bag.

“I chased him, grabbed the handlebars and screamed ‘give me back my bag’, but he pushed me aside and drove off. I can’t run after a moped.”

Now she is asking the public to keep an eye out for the bag.

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She is hoping to recover a small photo album with her only copies of pictures of her grandchildren and late husband, who died a decade ago.

There was also an irreplaceable poetry book given to her by her 15-year-old granddaughter, as well as about £100 in cash and several bank and loyalty cards.

“The photos are of no monetary value at all,” she said. “He’s just going to take the money and fling the bag.

“There are five or six photos and I never go without them. When you get married and live with someone for nearly 50 years, you still want them with you.

“He’s welcome to the money – I hope it brings him very bad luck.”

Cllr Chris Knight, who represents Hampstead Town ward, said: “We’ve had a lot of these around here at the moment, it seems to be on the increase. It’s something that really needs to be watched by people.

“I feel dreadfully sorry for the woman. Credit cards can be stopped, but you can’t replace the loss of things that are really dear to your heart. And the fact it was in front of her own front door makes it even worse.”

Police issued an appeal for witnesses to come forward on Tuesday. They described the man as white, aged about 20 to 25, and wearing a white crash helmet.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.