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A thief stole a purse containing a worker’s only photograph of her late mother when he broke into a shop’s staff office.

The white male, believed to be about 30-years-old, stole two purses from the YMCA shop in the Grove Shopping Centre, Witham, last Friday at 4.20pm.

Manager Elaine Blandford said: “He made a beeline from Tesco straight to the shop and had a chat with one of the volunteers, but he kept wanting to get away.

“Then both the girls in the shop noticed he wasn’t around - he’d gone straight into the office. "

Two purses, belonging to the manager and her co-worker Anne Heard, were taken from the office.

Ms Blandford said: “I had £50 in there, but Anne had everything in there, including a photograph of her mum which she is desperate to get back.”

The suspect is described as a white male, about 30-years-old and about 5ft 5in tall.

He was clean shaven and was wearing a shiny tracksuit, a bobble hat and grey trousers, and left a pair of gloves behind in the office.

Anyone with information is asked to call Essex Police on 101.