The attempted robbery happened in Harrogate at about 11.25am on Sunday.
A 34-year-old local woman had been walking down Duchy Avenue when she was approached from behind by a man, who grabbed hold of her handbag and tried to take it from her.
After struggling with the woman for a couple of seconds, the man gave up, released the bag and left the area, going back up Duchy Avenue in the direction of Glebe Road.
The victim was left unhurt but very shaken, police said.
The suspect is described as being in his late 20s, around 5ft 11in and of large build. He was clean-shaven and was wearing a dark coloured baseball cap, dark coloured tracksuit bottoms and an orange hoodie with a dark-coloured jacket over the top.
Anyone with information can contact PC Kelvin Troughton via 101 or by emailing [email protected]