HEARTLESS crooks stole a pensioner’s Christmas savings and sentimental photos as she queued in a busy shop.

The 68-year-old woman from Basildon had her purse stolen and was targeted while shopping in a card shop at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Basildon.

The victim said she must now save up the hundreds of pounds she would have spent on Christmas presents.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I had been out shopping with a friend of mine.

“I went into a card shop to get some bits and while I was queuing a woman lent on my shopping trolley.

“We talked briefly as they apologised but we laughed it off, then a man pushed past.

“As I went to get my purse to pay and realised it had gone.

“They had taken the purse and zipped my shopping trolley back up.

“I had £250 in the purse and had just got the money from the bank.

“A nice woman in the shop helped me to look around the shop for me purse.

“She also gave me some small bells to put onto my trolley so I can hear if someone goes into the bag again.”

The angry pensioner said she left her details with the shop worker, paid for the items on a card and left.

She reported the theft to the police and said officers are investigating.

The victim added: “I was going to use the cash for Christmas presents for my grandson.

“I think it was an elderly couple who lent on my trolley and think they and the man who pushed past us must all be involved. I was in a terrible state afterwards and was feeling sick and very shaken.

“It was so brazen and they took it from right under my nose.

“I was upset as the purse had pictures of my late husband in it which were sentimental.

“I do not carry a purse now and it’s going to make me a lot more wary when I am shopping and out and about.”

The annoyed grandmother said she now carries a small shoulder bag and keeps cards close by. It happened on November 11.

Essex Police confirmed a probe into the incident. The shopping centre was contacted for comment.