A STRING of burglaries targeting "insecure" homes have sparked increased early hours police patrols across two south Essex towns.

Police have received reports of suspects trying door handles before entering properties and stealing valuables including handbags and purses in the Stanford-le-Hope and Corringham areas.

This has led to a special operation set up by police in Thurrock, with officers patrolling these areas in the early hours and conducting security checks on homes.

Any homes found to be "insecure" will receive follow up visits from officers, who will discuss the different steps they can take to secure the property and protect themselves from these incidents.

An Essex Police spokesman said: "We are aware of a recent series of burglaries in the Corringham and Stanford-Le-Hope areas, whereby suspects have been trying door handles and subsequently entering insecure properties, stealing items such as handbags and purses.

"As a result, your Thurrock community policing teams have put together a special operation, undergoing patrols in the early hours of the morning and conducting security checks on properties in these areas.

"Any properties found to be insecure will be provided with a note by attending officers, advising residents that a follow up visit will take place to discuss the different methods available to secure your property.

"These checks will be continuing throughout the week and officers will be in full uniform. If you see one of our officers, please don't hesitate to engage in conversation with them.

"You can ask to see their warrant card, or alternatively, call 999 and request an ID check for the officer."