POLICE are hunting a street robber who attacked a 74-year-old woman at Woodrow, Redditch, and is also believed to be responsible for a similar incident days before.

Detectives are appealing for witnesses and information to trace the robber who struck on Wednesday, February 19 between 8.45am and 9am by the underpass that leads from Longdon Close to the Woodrow Centre.

The victim has lived in that area for 40 years and had just visited the Costcutter store. As she reached the top of some steps by the underpass she noticed a young man next to the railings.

She had only walked a few steps further when he approached her from behind and grabbed her black shopping bag which was over her shoulder. As she tried to fend him off he punched her face and ran off with towards Woodrow Centre.

It is thought he may have gone down one of the alleyways leading to Woodrow South as the bag was later found there minus cigarettes the woman had just bought, along with her purse containing cash and bank cards.

The woman made her way to Woodrow Centre pharmacy where an ambulance was called. She had a cut inside her mouth and facial bruising and was treated at the scene by paramedics although she did not go to hospital.

The robber was in his late teens or early 20s, white, around 5ft 5ins tall, thin and wearing dark clothing with a black scarf across his face.

He is also thought to have carried out a similar robbery on a path nearby in Kempsey Close at 3.45pm on Saturday, February 15 when a 60-year-old woman had her handbag pulled from her following a struggle. Again the attacker ran off towards Woodrow South with the bag, which contained a purse with around £30 and bank cards in it. The woman was shaken but not injured. Her bag, which has not been recovered, is brown with fur trim.

Detective Constable Sarah Richardson said: “We are appalled at the unnecessary violence which was used on Wednesday morning against a defenceless pensioner who was injured simply because she was plucky enough to try to hang on to her belongings. It’s all the more disgusting because apart from cigarettes all the offender got away with was just over £10.

“Attacking women like this is cowardly and despicable and it's vital this man is caught quickly. We believe he is local to Woodrow due to the proximity of these incidents and someone may well have seen him hanging around or know who he is.

“If you have any information or suspicions about his identity then please get in touch with Redditch Police Station. If you feel you cannot speak to us directly then you can pass on details anonymously to Crimestoppers.”

Det Con Richardson said door-to-door enquiries had been carried out in the area and high visibility patrols were being stepped up to provide reassurance.

She added: “We would urge people to remain vigilant on footpaths in that area and if they see anyone behaving suspiciously they should contact us immediately.”

Anyone with information can call North Worcestershire CID on 101, quoting incident reference 107-S-190214. Crimestoppers can be reached on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.