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A mother whose purse was snatched by a pickpocket has said the loss of a memento of her beloved dad has left her “broken-hearted”.

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Karen LeSurf, of Thornton’s Farm Avenue, Rush Green, carried a photo ID bus pass used by her father George Clarke in her bag for years after his death from cancer aged 52 because “it was like having a part of him with me.”

The 45-year-old child minder was shopping at The Card Factory store, in Laurie Walk, in the Libery Shopping Centre, Romford, when the purse containing the pass along with £110 and baby pictures of her daughter Georgia, 16, were stolen.

It is the latest incident in a recent spate of thefts at the nationwide company’s Romford stores.

“He was my world, I was 24 when I lost him,” said Karen of George, who served in the army catering corps and did magic as a hobby. “Just having that [bus pass] with me was having a part of him. It was something he touched and he used.”

Karen said she was looking for a card when a woman barged into her twice and then left the store at about 11.20am on Friday.

She managed to catch one of the thieves, detaining her until police arrived, but not before the purse was passed to an accomplice, who has so far managed to evade capture.

Karen is now appealing for anyone who has found her large leather purse, which is black with white circles on it, or the bus pass, to contact her. She is also warning others to be vigilant.

“If you feel someone knock into you check their hands immediately - I wish I had,” she said.

A woman has been arrested and bailed until early February pending further inquiries over the theft.

It is the fourth pickpocketing in the past month in Romford Card Factory stores.

Info to Det Con Dave Chitty at Havering police on 01708 779137 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

You can reach Karen via the Recorder on 020 8477 3878 or jane.ball@archant.co.uk.

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