FAGIN-STYLE adults have been using a young boy to steal purses from pensioners in Huddersfield.
Police believe the Eastern European gang has struck across the north of England.
The gang was back in Huddersfield last Thursday and police have urged people to be more vigilant and always keep their purses well-hidden.
Det Con Stewart Green, of Huddersfield police's intelligence unit, said: "The boy was spotted stealing a purse last Thursday in Huddersfield Open Market. He was with two women at the time.
"The same boy was caught on CCTV stealing a purse in Halifax town centre on January 29.
"This time he was with two men and a woman.
"We believe this gang is travelling across the north of England, targeting different towns and cities each day.
"They are probably using the boy because he is below the age of criminal responsibility."
Det Con Green added: "It is clear they are targeting pensioners. The adults are spotting the victims and then sending the boy to carry out the crimes. Most of the time the victims only realise they have had their purses stolen when they need money to pay at shop tills."
He said victims were leaving their purses on the top of shopping bags where they could easily be seen.
The boy is thought to be aged eight to 10 and he - along with the adults - has an Eastern European appearance.