A woman with cerebral palsy has today spoken of her anguish after a thief posing as a Good Samaritan stole her purse while pretending to befriend her.
The man offered to help Sarah Finlayson cross the road before stealing her bank card.
He ignored her protests that she could manage and escorted her to the Harrow Place tram stop on Blackpool Promenade before saying goodbye.
It was only later, when visiting the bank, that 42-year-old Ms Finlayson discovered her purse had been stolen.
And when she examined her bank statement she realised the thief had used her debit card to go on a spending spree around Blackpool.
Now she has warned other disab led people to be on their guard.
Ms Finlayson, of Crichton Place, South Shore, said: “I was using my electric wheelchair in my street to get to the tram stop when this man approached me.
“He asked me if I needed any help crossing the road, but I said that I was fine, but thanks anyway.
“But he wouldn’t let it go and was getting a bit too close for comfort.
“He insisted on walking with me to the tram stop.
“He escorted me down Harrow Place and then over the road to get to the stop.
“All the time he was really close to me and wouldn’t go away, despite me telling him that I could cope and did this journey all the time.
“When we got to the tram stop he leaned in close to say goodbye, and I found that a bit uncomfortable.
“I was just relieved that he had gone and I was being left alone.
“But when I got to the bank to get some money out of my account, I realised my purse had been stolen.
“I asked the cashier to look for me as well, but it wasn’t in my bag.
“I was shocked and could not believe that anyone would do something as despicable as steal from a woman who is obviously disabled.
“He must have grabbed my purse when he was leaning over me to say goodbye.
“I had no idea it had gone, he must have worked very fast.
“I kept telling the man that I did not need his help but he kept insisting.
“I thought he was just trying to help me like a Good Samaritan, but he must have decided he was going to steal from me as soon as he saw me coming down the road in my wheelchair.”
After getting a bank statement printed out, Ms Finlayson realised the thief had used her card to make contactless payments in throughout Blackpool town centre.
The card enables the holder to spend up to £30 at a time without inputting a PIN number.
Ms Finlayson’s card was used in HMV, McDonald’s, Tesco and various off-licences. She said: “I cancelled the card straight away, but he had already spent more than £100 in that short time.
“Luckily, the bank has refunded me, but the whole thing has left me shaken and feeling very vulnerable.
“Nothing like this has happened to me before. I use an electric wheelchair and it is obvious that I am disabled.
“This man knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop him, even if I caught him trying to take my purse. He knew I was helpless.
“This has set me back and it will take me a long time to recover from this, but he won’t leave me beaten.”
“The man looked like he had perhaps been sleeping rough for some time, but that is no excuse to go stealing from people.
“I would like to warn everyone to watch out for this man and not allow him to get too close. If he can steal from someone who is disabled then he is capable of anything.”
The thief is described as being in his late 20s or early 30s, bearded and of a scruffy appearance. He has a scar over one eyebrow.
Call police on 101.