DETECTIVES are desperate to track down a “cowardly” thief who robbed a partially-blind woman and stole her white cane.
The 45-year-old victim was walking across the car park at Bethesda Square, off Central Drive, Blackpool, to buy some milk from the shops when she was subjected to the sickening attack.
A man approached her from behind and grabbed her around the neck, reaching into her pocket and stealing cash before snatching her cane and fleeing the scene – leaving her stranded and terrified.
As police launched an appeal to track down the thief, blindness campaigners and community leaders today hit out at the “despicable” crime which they say could have robbed the victim of her independence as well as her cash.
Judith Harrison, community services manager for N-Vision, the Fylde coast charity which supports people with reduced vision, offered their support for the victim.
She said: “It is despicable someone would target someone using a white support stick and take it from them.
“It’s awful this could happen to someone just going out to buy necessities. It takes a lot of confidence for someone with a visual impairment to go out on their own.
“It’s the emotional trauma and the loss of confidence the lady might experience after this.
“We’re very shocked by what has happened. If the lady wants to get in touch with us we can offer her help and replace the stick.”
The robbery happened between 9.30pm and 10pm on Monday.
Details of the incident are scant because, due to her limited vision, the victim could offer little by way of a description of the callous assailant.
Bloomfield ward councillor Coun Mary Smith, of Blackpool Council, said: “It must have been terrifying for her. They are disgusting to do something like this.
“I’m sorry to hear this has happened. What is it coming to? To pick on someone who is partially sighted. They are cowards.”
Resident Tracy Miller, who lives close to the scene in Bethesda Square, added: “I’m really sorry to hear about it happening in our area, I’m shocked.
“Whoever did it should hand her walking stick back.”
Police said after the incident the victim went home and rang the police to report the robbery.
She was left shaken by the incident but did not require hospital treatment.
Det Con Liam Davy, of Blackpool Police’s robbery squad, told The Gazette: “This was a cowardly, unprovoked attack on a lone, partially sighted woman and the person responsible needs to be caught and brought to justice.
“I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and witnessed anything suspicious to come forward and contact us.”
Anyone with information can call Blackpool Police on 08451 25 35 45.