A 98-year-old woman robbed of $12 and some mince pies outside her Morrinsville home cried "come back, come back" to her attackers as she lay by her letterbox.
Asta McCracken had walked home from Countdown supermarket in Morrinsville about 11am on Monday and was bending into her letterbox when two 16-year-old boys who had been following her allegedly approached her from behind and snatched the purse tightly wedged under her arm.
The woman fell to the ground and the boys ran off with her purse containing $12, credit cards and her keys. They also took her shopping bag containing two packs of Christmas mince pies which had been on the ground beside her.
A couple cycling past Ms McCracken's home near the corner of Lear and Anderson Sts saw the teens run off and the 48-year-old man chased them on his push-bike, catching one of the boys while his wife called the police.
Using descriptions given to them by members of the public, police arrested the second suspect shortly after.
Ms McCracken's neighbour Ross Millar said he was surprised to walk out of his bathroom to see police officers outside his home.
He said his neighbour had been very brave and was left shocked but uninjured.
"It was not very nice, she was calling out and crying. She got up off the ground and said 'come back here'. She was yelling out 'come back, come back'."
Mr Millar said the thieves had been rifling through her handbag as they ran off and dropped the money which was returned to his elderly neighbour.
However, a smaller purse containing her house keys and credit cards had not been returned.
Ms McCracken was staying with her son in Hamilton for a few days while she recovered.
Residents in the housing estate were shocked to learn of the attack in the usually safe town but said it was often used as a short cut by people to get between Anderson St and Lear St.
Mr Millar said his agile neighbour was "very caring and walked into town every day".
"She was always perfectly dressed and groomed and her jewellery was always perfect. She's just a lovely, lovely lady."
Another neighbour, Eileen Gall, said Ms McCracken had lived in her two-bedroom flat for more than 20 years.
She said she had a mobility scooter but didn't like to use it because it hurt her neck whenever she went over bumps on the footpath.
Morrinsville Police Senior Sergeant Mark Toomey said it was a cowardly attack and he was pleased with the community's quick reaction which helped police catch the suspects.
He said local residents were appalled. "There's generally a bit of disbelief that this happened and that's why I think they were so willing to jump on board and assist."
Two boys are due to appear in the Morrinsville Youth Court on Friday.By Nikki Preston Email Nikki