A spate of “heartless” handbag thefts has forced police to issue warnings to vulnerable motorists.

At least 11 bags along with other valuable have been snatched from cars while they are stationary at traffic lights since mid-January.

A Barnet police spokesman said victims have often been elderly ladies. He added the latest wave of incidents follows a similar series of thefts from cars parked at the Islington and St Pancras Cemetery and at petrol station forecourts in the borough.

He said: “Officers are warning all motorists to keep any valuables out of sight and to lock doors while driving.”

The thefts have taken place at locations across the borough, and DI Duncan Wood has advised that simple crime prevention techniques can deter criminals.

He said: “While we are doing everything we can to catch the people responsible for these heartless thefts, the public can play their part in preventing further offences.

“When stationary, lock your doors. Keep valuables such as bags and sat navs hidden away and not on obvious display when you leave your vehicle parked.”

Barnet police are appealing to people who may have been a victim of these crimes, or may have information on them, to come forward. They can call police on 0300 123 1212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.