Officers have received a report of two girls approaching members of the public in Nottingham city centre on Tuesday and showing them paperwork suggesting they were collecting donations on behalf of a deaf charity.
Two girls, aged 17 and 14, were arrested on suspicion of committing fraud by false representation and possessing an article for use in fraud. Both girls have since been released under investigation.
Police have also received similar reports of distraction thefts in the city and county where girls have approached members of the public with surveys and clipboards, claiming to be collecting on behalf of a various charities, schools and hospitals and asking them to sign a petition.
After filling in forms members of the public have been asked if they can provide identification. While confirming their details victims have later found cash has been stolen from their purses or wallets.
Incidents have been reported in areas including Rushcliffe, Gedling and Sherwood town centre.
Two girls, aged 18 and 16, were arrested on suspicion of theft following an incident in West Bridgford on Saturday. Both were subsequently released under investigation.
Inspector Craig Berry, Neighbourhood Policing Inspector responsible for local policing in the Rushcliffe borough, said: "We’ve already made some arrests in connection with these offences and our enquiries are ongoing, including co-ordinating CCTV opportunities.
"We will continue to carry out patrols in the run to Christmas, providing reassurance to the public and local businesses, and we will also continue to work closely with partners to identify those committing offences and bring them to justice.
“There are many legitimate charities fundraising for good causes – every pound lost to a scam charity is a pound less that can be donated to a reputable cause.
“Anyone asked to make a donation to charity in person and who wishes to do so should ask to see the identification of the fundraiser. All legitimate charity fundraisers carry official identification when fundraising. Make sure you are satisfied the identification is genuine.
“All charities have to be registered with the Charity Commission. Check if a charity is registered with them by visiting the Charity Commission’s website at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission
“Don’t give out personal information and bank details to make a regular donation by standing order unless you are satisfied the person you are talking to is genuine. You can always phone the charity back on a known phone number published in the phone book or on the charity’s official website.”
Nottinghamshire Police can also provide members of the public with purse bells as an added deterrent to purse thieves. The bells can alert you if a thief tries to pull out your purse from your bag.
The bells are ordered as and when they are needed so if people want them they should contact their local neighbourhood beat team to see if they have any available.
Anyone who has lost money to a fraud similar to that described is advised to contact Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or you can report it online by visiting https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime