A man on a bicycle tried to steal a woman's purse from her pocket after stopping her and asking for help in Harrogate.
But he ended up handing it back when the victim realised the purse was missing and called on a passerby for help.
Now North Yorkshire Police are seeking the public's help in identifying the would-be thief.
The woman, who is in her 60s, was stopped by the man on Grove Park Avenue at around 12.15pm last Thursday.
A police spokesman said: "During a short conversation, the man put his hand in the woman’s pocket and took out her purse.
"The woman noticed her purse was missing and called for help from another man who was walking past. As a result, the suspect handed back the purse and cycled off."
The cyclist is described as white, 5ft 6in and aged between 20 and 30 years old, with short black/grey hair and an unshaven face.
He was wearing a long black coat and riding a racing type bike, which was covered in mud.
The spokesman said: "We are conducting enquiries and are requesting the public’s assistance to help determine the full circumstances surrounding the incident.
"In particular, we are appealing for information from anyone who was in the area at the time who may be able to help identify the man on the cycle."
Anyone with information is asked to email Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 101, select option 2, and ask for Rebecca Cullinane.
Information can also be passed on anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Please quote the North Yorkshire Police reference number 12170187693