OAP's £20,000 missed by two thieves

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Undated handout photo issued by Durham Police of Marek Olszewski, 34, who was jailed for four years at Teesside Crown Court after admitting robbery. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday February 11, 2014. Olszewski, and a separate crook who also rifled through a bag, missed ?20,000 his 74-year-old victim had hidden in tea towels. See PA story POLICE Savings. Photo credit should read: Durham Police /PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

A widow who had £24,000 life savings snatched in a mugging has been reunited with most of the cash after two separate thieves missed hidden bundles of cash.

The remarkable story came to light when burly Marek Olszewski was jailed after he admitted mugging the 74-year-old in Darlington in November.

He had spotted his victim in a town bookmakers placing a bet and, realising she was carrying a lot of cash, decided to follow her.

He got on the same bus and when she got off, he attacked her in the street and grabbed her bag. She was dragged around and suffered bruising, and still has headaches and a painful knee and shoulder.

The 34-year-old Polish national took her purse containing £4,000 and then dumped the bag in a hedge.

He did not realise there was a further £20,000 wrapped in tea towels inside the bag.

And neither did another crook, who found the discarded bag and took jewellery the mugger had missed.

Detective Constable Mick Trodden said it was "remarkable" neither the mugger nor the jewellery thieves spotted the £20,000.

He said the tiny victim, who was recently bereaved of her husband, tried to fight off her attacker who was over 6ft tall.

Police traced the stolen jewellery when a local trader contacted them, and from there managed to find the handler who showed officers where the bag had been dumped.

Officers then found the hidden £20,000 still in the bag and it was returned to the victim.

Meanwhile, after police circulated CCTV pictures from the bus, the public swiftly identified Olszewski and he was arrested.

He was jailed for four years at Teesside Crown Court yesterday after admitting robbery.

After the case the detective said the victim was overjoyed when police reunited her with the savings.

Mr Trodden said: "It was a very pleasing investigation. It has been very emotional for her to go through all this.

"The fact she has got a lot of her property back and he has been dealt with so quickly will give her some closure.

"He was surprised when we arrested him. One of his questions was 'How did you find us?'"

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