LANCASHIRE Police are urging people to be extra vigilant in town and city centres following a spate of distraction thefts.

The thefts have been reported happening in various places, including pubs, hair salons, nail bars and estate agents.

Offenders are believed to be travelling throughout the area in order to target victims and steal high value smartphones.

Thefts have been reported in Burnley, Clitheroe and Preston.

A police spokesperson said: “Offenders usually employ a number of tactics in order to distract victims and steal mobile phones.

“The more common ones are to use items such as maps, leaflets or clipboards to conceal and steal smartphones left on tables or counters.

“Therefore we'd like to advise people to keep your valuables hidden from view and keep your wits about them.

“Don't leave items such as smartphones out in the open for everyone to see.

“And if you see anything suspicious then telephone the police on 101 or speak to security staff where available.

“Don’t make it easy for criminals to steal your valuables.”