Litter pickers find stolen handbag snatched from shopper last year

Ely litter pickers Brian Calvert, Dezső Módos and Mira Hawke have returned a handbag

Ely litter pickers Brian Calvert, Dezső Módos and Mira Hawke have returned a handbag snatched from an elderly shopper’s trolley last year. - Credit: Brian Calvert

A team of volunteer litter pickers have reunited a retired teacher with her stolen handbag after it was snatched from a shopping trolley last year.  

Community cleaner Dezső Módos discovered the “soggy” handbag in a hedge while carrying out a ‘morning session’ and tried to track down its owner.  

After some “detective work”, fellow picker Brian Calvert managed to locate the bag owner, retired teacher Debbie Ellis from Little Thetford.  

Ely Litter Pickers hit the streets on Saturday, July 12.

Ely Litter Pickers hit the streets on Saturday, July 12. - Credit: Mike Rouse

Mr Calvert said: “I looked up the name on directory enquiry and found a match in Little Thetford, called the number and spoke to the nice lady. 

“Mrs Ellis said it was stolen out of her trolley while shopping in Tesco a year ago. 


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“She said she’d love the bag back, obviously we were going to return it, and she asked how she could get it.  

“I jumped in the car and asked Dezso if he wanted to come too, I picked up a bunch of flowers from the market square and we took it back.”  

Ely Litter Pickers hit the streets on Saturday, July 12.

Ely Litter Pickers hit the streets on Saturday, July 12. - Credit: Mike Rouse

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Mrs Ellis, aged in her 90s, moved to east Cambridgeshire from Dorset just before lockdown and said that the bag being stolen was “the start of her run of bad luck”.  

“She told us it had been an awful year for her,” added Mr Calvert. 

“Mrs Ellis was well in her 90s, a retired teacher and had lots of stories to tell.  

“She chatted to us for ages, couldn’t believe we’d brought her bag to her, why wouldn’t we? 

“She was so happy that she’d had something nice happen to her. 

Ely Litter Pickers hit the streets on Saturday, July 12.

Ely Litter Pickers hit the streets on Saturday, July 12. - Credit: Mike Rouse

“That’s really what Ely Litter Pickers is about, making Ely a nicer place for everyone to enjoy, making a cleaner nicer community for us all. 

“It just felt nice to make her day and show that Ely is full of nice people, and that having her handbag snatched is not what Ely’s about. 

“We did also have a really good litter picking session.  

“We had over 40 people come along and between them, they cleaned through the town centre, along the river, the parks, car parks etc and collected 18 bins bags full of rubbish.” 

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