A CCTV operator alerted two women through a loud speaker system that they were being followed.
He saw the pair were being followed by a youth who was acting suspiciously as they crossed Middlesbrough's Captain Cook Square on Tuesday night.
As he warned them, the youth grabbed one of the women's handbags and after a struggle he ran off empty-handed.
Police said a 16-year-old was arrested in connection with the incident and appealed for the women to come forward.
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