Robber grabs victim during Great Yarmouth church service and steals her bag

St Spyridons Church where the theft took place.

St Spyridons Church where the theft took place. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

A woman's cries for help as a robber grabbed her handbag went unanswered by fellow churchgoers.

Part way through a service, the nurse aged in her 50s, was pulled into the aisle by another woman as she tried to yank the bag away during a service at St Spyridon's Greek Orthodox Church last Sunday.

The victim, who doesn't want to be identified said: 'She grabbed my bag. I held on to it and she pulled me into the aisle. I shouted 'Let it go' but she didn't. I have never been so scared in my life.

'No-one was coming to help me, she could have had a knife.'

Clearly upset, she added: 'You don't expect it in a church.'

She described the female attacker as being large and smelling of alcohol and she was distraught that no-one in the congregation went to her aid – one man even turned around and 'shushed' her.

The robber eventually fought off the nurse, who was forced to relinquish her bag, and ran out of the church into St Peter's Road, Great Yarmouth. The nurse raced after the thief, who turned and threw the bag at her and shouted 'It was a joke,' before fleeing.

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The nurse said a shopkeeper on St Peter's Road came and helped her when he saw her crying as she walked down the road in a daze towards the seafront.

The mother of two then looked in her bag and found £10 had been stolen, but that didn't bother her, she was relieved the incident hadn't been worse.

Despite attending St Spyridon's Church for several years, she said she didn't feel safe to go again.

She told the Mercury: 'I probably won't go anymore – I don't want to go anywhere now.'

After walking along the seafront to calm herself down she made her way Yarmouth police station to report what had happened.

She said the police had been very supportive adding she wanted the robber to be found, 'because she probably she needs more help than me.'

Antonios Papageorgiou, 59, a member of St Spyridon'scongregation for 40 years, was assisting the priest in the service with chanting at the time of the attack.

He said: 'I saw a lady come in and sit next to a woman at the back. Then I heard them having an argument and screaming. After it happened I found out she was trying to take her bag.

'We owe an apology to her. If I knew the other lady wanted to pinch her bag I'd have gone down. When I finished chanting I walked outside to find her.'

Mr Papageorgiou said it was not the first time a service had been interrupted, as on one occasion a man had walked in and up to the priest during a service and askedfor money.

He said he believed there were a lot of people drug dealing on the street outside the church, adding: 'We feel a little bit unsafe, but we can't lock the doors because we are open to everyone.'

The police confirmed an incident had been reported to them and it was being investigates by local CID officers.

Any witnesses or anyone with information should contact Great Yarmouth CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

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