PEOPLE have been urged to avoid walking home alone from nights out in York after a 21-year-old woman was robbed.

The woman, who is understood to be a student, was pushed to the ground by a man who stole her handbag as she walked along the cycle track between Richmond Street and Little Hallfield Road, near James Street in Layerthorpe.

A Blackberry Curve mobile phone, a small amount of cash and a bunch of keys were in the bag, police said.

In recent years there has been a string of incidents on the same stretch of path including a cyclist threatened by a man with a knife and a student being robbed and assaulted.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police, said: “When you are going for a night out in town it is important to plan how you are getting home. If you are out with friends stick together and ensure that everyone gets home safely.

“If you have to walk home, it is a good idea to stick to well-lit, busy routes and if at all possible make sure you walk home with somebody.”

The attacker is described as white and having a local accent. He was wearing a light-coloured tracksuit with green piping.

Det Con Emma Newton, of York CID, said: “Fortunately, the victim didn’t come to any serious harm in this incident, but it is important that we find the man responsible.

“If you witnessed the robbery, know who is responsible, or saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area around the time of the incident, please contact the police.

“I would also like to hear from anyone who has seen the stolen property, knows where it is, or has been offered any of the items.”

In November 2011 student James McGee, 19, was walking home from a birthday celebration along the same stretch of cycle track when he was attacked by two men who stole money and his phone.

Aaron Dwayne Barlow, then 23, and Ross Bickerdyke, then 22, were jailed for the attack and a number of others carried out on the same night.

In March of the same year, a 20-year-old local woman had cycled through an underpass, which passes beneath Layerthorpe, when a man jumped out of some bushes and threatened her with a knife. She was able to escape.

In 2010, The Press reported how Ralph Ensbury, then 52, was left with serious facial injuries when he was beaten up as he cycled home.

Anyone with information about the robbery, which happened at about 1.30am on Thursday, should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.