An 85-year-old was left “distraught” after falling prey to a distraction theft while reportedly visiting her husband’s grave.

Herts Police said she was with a male friend, 61, at Carpenders Park Lawn Cemetery in Oxhey Lane, when a woman approached and asked about decorations on a gravestone.

When the man returned to his car, a handbag had been taken from the passenger seat. It happened at around 11.30am on Saturday, December 30.

A woman posting about it on social media wrote: “I’ve just left a very distraught elderly lady at the South Oxhey police station”, adding “she’s very shaken and extremely upset, her whole life was in her bag. Can’t believe people are so disgusting.”

The bag reportedly contained money, cards, paperwork and house keys, leaving the victim “extremely scared that they could go to her home”.

Numerous people voiced outrage in the comments, with several urging authorities to check the cemetery CCTV.

But a spokesperson for Brent Council, which is responsible for the site, told the Watford Observer there is none, adding it “isn’t standard practice for us to have CCTV covering all of our green spaces and cemeteries”.

A Herts Police spokesperson confirmed the distraction theft had been reported to them, enquiries are ongoing, but no one has been arrested.

There had been reports that the theft involved two females, with one distracting while the other took the bag. However, the force spokesperson said only one suspect, “with an accent who spoke to the victims”, was reported to police, and a second has not yet been confirmed.

Officers do not know what accent they had, they added.

Several contributors suggested the community raise money for the lady, following which South Oxhey Labour Club confirmed they had already garnered £500 for her.

A club spokesperson said: “We were very shocked and saddened to hear the news of what had happened to the lady at the cemetery. It’s awful any time, but for it to happen over the Christmas period while she was visiting her late husband is utterly devastating for her.”

Having heard the news, the club appealed on social media for donations, which was met with overwhelming community spirit.

“The South Oxhey and Carpenders Park community have been nothing but amazing,” they added. “We have so far raised over £500 for the lady. We will be handing the money into the police next week so they can give it to her.”

Brent councillor Harbi Farah, cabinet member for safer communities and public protection, said: “We are working closely with the police and Harrow Council to help them with this matter. We will continue to work with them to make sure all of our green spaces are safe for residents.”

Information can be reported to Herts Police via non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference 41/103763/23.