Police are urging people to be vigilant after cash was stolen from a number of women in towns across the Amber Valley.
The most recent incident happened on Tamworth Street in Duffield between 11am and 11.30am on Monday, March 18.
A man approached an 89-year-old woman and asked her for change. While she was opening her purse to check, the man managed to distract her and stole cash from her handbag.
She did not realise anything had been taken until a few hours later when she reported it to police.
There have been a total of nine other similar reports made to police in the Amber Valley area during the past month; five in Ripley, two in Heanor, one in Belper and one in Alfreton. An incident has also been reported in Matlock.
In eight of these incidents the man has been described as of eastern European appearance, well built, aged in his 30s or 40s and well-dressed or wearing a suit.
The offender in the Duffield incident was described by the victim as being white, with dark hair and dark, nice clothing.
As part of the investigations, officers are considering whether the reports may be linked.
Temporary Sgt. Emma Marshall of the local Safer Neighbourhood policing team said: “These incidents have seen older people being targeted by thieves who have distracted the victims and stolen cash from their purses or handbags.
“We are advising people to be alert and cautious if approached by a stranger while in the street. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings, and if you feel suspicious or even vulnerable then just say no and walk away.”
It is also advisable to avoid carrying large sums of cash, to never leave valuables unattended, to keep belongings in a zipped pocket or bag and to use a purse chain if you have one.
T/Sgt. Marshall added: “If anyone has seen anyone acting suspiciously, or has any information about these incidents then please contact us.
“Please also mention these incidents to relatives and friends who you think might be vulnerable to make them aware; it could really help prevent them from becoming a victim of this type of crime.”
Anyone with information should contact PC Ruth Platts by calling 101, quoting reference 17*117634, or send her a message online through the Contact Us page at www.derbyshire.police.uk.
You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.