SHOPPERS are being warned to be on their guard following a spate of thefts from cars in the run-up to Christmas.

Cleveland Police has had reports of handbags being stolen from unlocked cars as shoppers have been buying parking tickets for their cars at a machine.

The most recent incident happened at noon on Friday (November 23) in the car park on Albert Road in Middlesbrough, when a woman had her handbag stolen from her car while buying a ticket.

PC Aaron McSorley (CORR) said: “As the town centre becomes increasingly busy with shoppers in the run up to Christmas, we would remind people to keep their valuables close to them and to keep their cars locked at all times.

“It only takes a minute for a thief to snatch a handbag or other valuables from an unlocked car, which can cause a great deal of upset and inconvenience to victims.

“Remember not to leave valuables and presents in your car, and make sure it is locked and left in a secure car park.”

Anyone with information about the thefts should contact Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101.