A COMMUTING purse snatcher has been handed an ASBO banning her from entering Cambridgeshire for two years.

Velichka Hristova, 21, from Haringey in London, appeared in Cambridge Magistrates Court on Tuesday, October 13.

She had pleaded guilty to five pur

A COMMUTING purse snatcher has been handed an ASBO banning her from entering Cambridgeshire for two years.

Velichka Hristova, 21, from Haringey in London, appeared in Cambridge Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, October 13.

She had pleaded guilty to five purse thefts and four charges of fraudulent use of credit cards in Ely. She was given a six months sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid community service. The ASBO also bans her from entering Cambridgeshire for two years.

Inspector Andy Bartlett, Sector Inspector for East Cambs, said: "Hristova commuted to Ely to commit crime, mainly targeting elderly women with shopping trolleys in charity shops.

"Purse thefts have been an issue in the city centre for some time, and the fact that elderly and vulnerable women were victims underlines the callous nature of these crimes. Hristova mingled with shoppers, stole a purse, then added to the trauma for the victim by quickly committing fraud by withdrawing funds from cash machines using credit cards from the stolen purse.

"I would ask shoppers to look after their purses, wallets or handbags by keeping them in a safe place about their person. Shoppers should be aware of anyone brushing up against them, or distracting them.

"Under no circumstances should the PIN be kept in the same place as the card."

Brian Tully, ASB co-ordinator for East Cambridgeshire Community Safety Partnership, said: "At first glance, this may seem an unusual case for an ASBO, because it is a matter of pure crime.

"However, the effect on the shopping community has been significant, with purse theft being a particular problem on Thursdays, with the combination of pensions day and the market.

"The purpose of anti-social behaviour legislation is to protect the community, and we are doing so by keeping this thief out of the city."

Shops in Ely will be given an ASBO notice to facilitate reporting any breach of the order to police. Breaches can be reported on 0345 4564564.