A big warning and an even bigger thank you

Dear Editor,

Last Thursday I was unlucky to have my handbag stolen from Aldi in Lagoa – not a by-chance thief but obviously one so well practised and set up that we could see the exact modus operandi after the theft had taken place.

The thief crept alongside our car from the grass verge while I took the trolley back to the shop, only three car spaces directly in front of the entrance, and my husband was spoken to by the driver of a passing car at the rear of our parked one, asking for directions to Faro.

The decoy spoke to my husband while watching his partner in crime over my husband’s shoulder open the driver’s door and take out my bag from the car. Once his partner was clear, he set his car into motion and drove rapidly out of the carpark and took exactly the wrong direction he had been asking for. We saw the car leave the carpark at speed and then stop on the road past the roundabout to pick up the accomplice.

When I realised my bag was missing, I first thought it was buried amongst the shopping bags in the boot, so I used my husband’s phone to phone my own one to see if I could locate it … but nothing.

Aldi called the police for me (who arrived promptly) to report the theft. When we realised we had been set up helping a “lost visitor”, my husband walked over to the adjoining fields to see if the thief had tossed my bag into the long grass after taking the valuables from it.

Whilst he was searching, his own phone rang and an English lady asked if I had lost my bag at Aldi, as one had just been thrown into her garden from a passing car. We confirmed that was the case and she kindly said she would see us there soon and would bring it to us.

Meanwhile, the police arrived and I readily gave a statement. During this time my husband received a second call on his phone asking where we were, as the lady speaking could not see us in the car park (it turns out she was in Alcantarilha Aldi! The thief had driven from one Aldi to the other and tossed my bag out).

The police said they would immediately send a patrol car there to collect it, which they did. I thankfully duly took repossession of all my belongings except for cash and credit cards (which we had had the foresight to stop immediately we realised the bag was missing).

I have written this letter to a) warn everyone to be vigilant – even in the most unlikely situation – to keep their possessions under a careful watch and b) more importantly to thank the lady who bothered to put herself out to help recover my bag. The bag itself was not the be-all and end-all if it had not been returned, but the time and trouble it would have taken to replace my residência, healthcards, driving licence, numerous membership cards and assorted keys and phone would have taken years.

A very big thank you to the lady who bothered and also to the police for their efficiency and assistance.

Name and address