A Palmerston North detective has described the actions of the person who stole $3500 from an elderly woman, before embarking on a pokies and tobacco spending spree, as "beyond contempt".
The 90-year-old woman's handbag was stolen while she had her hair washed at a Palmerston North hairdresser on March 25.
She immediately cancelled her cards, and reported the theft to police.
A woman claiming to be from a bank phoned the woman's house on March 30, to ask for an account pin number.
The 90-year-old refused to provide the information over the phone, so the bogus bank worker arranged to visit her home on the same day.
While at the house, the suspect coaxed account information from the woman, enabling her to withdraw nearly $3500 from her account.
Palmerston North Detective Lee Oudenryn said many of the transactions were made at city bars.
"She's a mad poker machine player, so that's where most of it went," Mr Oudenryn said.
The money was also used to buy hundreds of dollars worth of tobacco, he said.
Mr Oudenryn said the victim was "absolutely gutted" at the loss of the money.
"Stealing from a 90-year-old woman in this way is beyond contempt.
"The offender went to significant lengths to dupe her victim and was incredibly convincing."
The alleged offender was captured on security camera footage at the Countdown supermarket on Rangitikei St.
She is described as overweight, 170cm tall, and Maori. She was shopping with another woman, also Maori or Polynesian, who was wearing a red T-shirt.
Anyone with information can call the Palmerston North police station on 3513600, or phone the Crimestoppers line on 0800555111.
- Manawatu Standard