A shopper who was tricked by callous con-artists fears they may be targeting disabled parking bays.

Lilian Butcher, who has a condition which makes walking difficult, was loading shopping in her Toyota Rav 4, which was parked in a disabled bay in Tesco Highwoods car park, when she was approached by a man on Tuesday morning.

He distracted her by saying she had a nail in her tyre, and an accomplice rifled through her bag, stole her purse and later used the bank card to withdraw a three figure sum of cash.

Mrs Butcher, 65, said: “I just think these devils, how can they do this, how can they do this to somebody, it is just awful.

“I suspect they must have been watching me.

“I wonder if they target blue badge areas, if anybody susses them they are not going to be able to run after them, but it might not be that."

Her late mother had given her the black leather purse, with multiple compartments, as a present and Mrs Butcher said it is of high sentimental value to her.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “The man who carried it out is described as of Eastern European appearance, spoke with a foreign accent, was in his early 20s and wore a waist length black jacket.”

There is no description of the accomplice.

Anyone with information or who has found the purse is asked to call investigating officers at Colchester Police Station on 101.

See today's paper for the full story.