Pop singer Justin Timberlake has been hailed a hero after bravely chasing a handbag thief, then returning the stolen item to the traumatised victim.

The CRY ME A RIVER hunk was leaving a plush Los Angeles restaurant with his movie star girlfriend Cameron Diaz recently when he witnessed the violent incident taking place, and promptly gave chase.

Hunky Justin pursued the attacker down an alleyway, eventually scaring the criminal into throwing the bag away and escaping over a wall.

The heroic singer picked up the accessory, returned it to the grateful woman and contacted the police on his cellphone.

A spokesman for the star says, "Justin's very fit and could have caught the man, but he chose to grab the bag when the attacker dropped it and return to the lady to make sure she was OK."

An impressed onlooker adds, "Justin didn't stop to think about his own safety."

06/11/2003 14:02