A SHOCKED community has rallied to the aid of a 96-year-old woman from Wadebridge who was mugged of her pension in broad daylight.
Money has been collected, food has been offered and flowers have flooded into the West Park home of Zoe Shephard.
A teenager was arrested this week and interviewed at length about the offence but was later released on police bail, pending further inquires.
A Wadebridge businessman has put up a £1,000 reward for information to be provided to the police which leads to the conviction of the person responsible.
Mrs Shephard said she had been overwhelmed by the kindness shown towards her since her ordeal at the hands of a teenage thief who grabbed her handbag containing her pension money.
The retired psychiatric nurse, who will be 97 next month, said this week she was still traumatised by the theft on January 9 and didn't feel it was safe to leave her home.
But she wanted to show her appreciation to the people of Wadebridge for their help and support.
Mrs Shephard said: "I love Wadebridge so much, and I want to thank the whole town from the very bottom of my heart.
"I've had flowers, lovely, lovely letters, money has been collected for me and shops have provided me with food hampers – I can't thank everyone enough for what they have done for me – I really don't know what to say."
Annie Parry, who runs the Elegance dress agency in Wadebridge, has been co-ordinating the donations for Mrs Shephard.
She explained: " I was so enraged that this could have happened in Wadebridge and especially to a woman of that age, that I started a Facebook page and the donations have been coming in ever since.
"So far, £283 has been collected, shops have donated food, and Trago Mills has offered to replace Mrs Shephard's bag which was snatched.
"I understand another shop is collecting money and a supermarket has offered help to Mrs Shephard – people everywhere have just been outraged by what has happened," she said.
Mrs Shephard had her handbag snatched in an alleyway near her home as she was returning from the town centre at 2.30pm on January 9.
The teenage offender ran off down a bridleway in the direction of Egloshayle Church. The beige double strapped bag contained more than £100 in cash, together with credit cards and some food items.
The offender is described as aged between 14 and 18 years, of medium build and wearing dark clothing with a white motif between the shoulder blades on the rear of his top.
Mrs Shephard praised a young man in his early twenties who came to her aid after the theft.
"I was shaking and in a terrible state, and I said to him, 'Excuse me dear, I've just been robbed, and I need to tell the police, do you have a mobile phone?'
"I was panicking but he was so calm and dialled 999 for me and said he wouldn't leave me until the police arrived.
"He was such a lovely young man and later he sent me some flowers – he was my lifeline that day."
Mrs Shephard has been too frightened to leave her home since the mugging.
"The police have been wonderful and have been with me day and night, but I won't feel safe until the person who did this terrible thing to me has been caught," she said.
Police would like to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time or from anyone who has any information.
They can be contacted on 101 with police reference BW/13/19, alternatively call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or report online at www.Crimestoppers-uk.org