GRANDMOTHER Thelma Absalom thought the woman who stopped by to compliment her on her garden was just being friendly.
But while the 83-year-old chatted to the passer-by, an accomplice was stealing the pensioner’s handbag.
Now she wants to warn others to be on the lookout for burglars who distract their victims so they can steal from them.
She had just returned home from a garden centre when the thieves struck.
Mrs Absalom left her handbag in the hallway of her flat while she planted some daffodils in a window box just feet away.
While she was planting, the woman began to chat to her.
But once the woman had gone Mrs Absalom realised her handbag containing her purse, mobile phone, medication, hearing aids, bus pass and car keys had been stolen.
Mrs Absalom, of Beechworth Road, Havant, said: ‘I’m sure the lady who chatted me up was part of the whole set-up.
‘It’s only now that I’m feeling the brunt of it.
‘I’m feeling very shaky and nervous though I faced it at the time.
‘I’m beginning to feel my confidence slipping.
‘You don’t open your front door and expect someone to walk in and steal your handbag and I believe someone was watching me and targeted me as an old lady because they knew I probably didn’t have any back-up.
‘A friend of mine telephoned my mobile phone number and left them a very strict message about them being thieves and warning them they will be caught.’
Mrs Absalom has had to order a new set of car keys and order new bank cards, a bus pass and hearing aids.
Police have replaced the locks in her home with the help of the Bobby Scheme – a charitable service for elderly victims of burglary.
Mrs Absalom added: ‘It’s not the loss so much as the hassle to put it all together again.
‘I worry that elderly people are being targeted so they must be on their guard.’
Mrs Absalom did not see who stole her bag but the woman who chatted with her is believed to be in her 40s.
Havant police are appealing for witnesses to the incident which happened on Monday, February 20 between 3pm and 4pm.
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.