Police are warning shoppers about a prolific pair of thieves who are stealing from people sitting at cafes and restaurants.
Since 20 November 2014, the team of two distraction thieves have struck 16 times across the City Centre. On every occasion the offenders have approached someone sitting at a table and have asked them directions. They have then distracted them with a map or a leaflet which they have placed over the victimâ€™s phone. They have then swept up the phone along with the map and left with it.
They have struck at more than a dozen locations, including cafes and restaurants at Deansgate Locks, Oxford Road, Albert Square, the Corn Exchange and the Northern Quarter. The victims have been aged between 10 and 74.
Police have now released an image of one of the offenders.
Detective Inspector Chris Flint, based in the City centre, said: â€œThis is a cynical tactic sometimes used by thieves to steal peopleâ€™s phones.
â€œThis pair have targeted people indiscriminately across the city centre and appear to be homing in on people who have laid their phones on the table.
â€œNow, we donâ€™t want to discourage people from being helpful to anyone genuinely asking for directions. Instead, we just want shoppers to use some common sense about where they are placing their belongings and, if possible, donâ€™t have them clearly on view.â€
Anyone with information or who recognises the man in the image is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.