Mobile phone owners are being warned to be cautious about lending their device to strangers after two people in Gloucester had theirs stolen by a man who had asked for their assistance.

In both cases, the offender used a medical reason for needing to make a call.

The first incident was reported at about 3pm on Friday, June 6 in Midland Road.

A man asked the victim to call a midwife, giving him a piece of paper on which a number was written.

The victim rang the number, then handed his Samsung Galaxy to the offender who absconded with it.

The second incident was reported at about 6pm on Saturday, June 7, in Bedford Street.

A man approached a woman, asking to borrow her phone to call an ambulance for his wife who was having a baby.

The victim handed over her Samsung Galaxy and the offender took it and ran off.

Police suspect the two thefts are linked and are appealing for witnesses, or other victims, to come forward.

Police Sergeant Jon Testar said: "The offenders here have taken advantage of their victims with the underhand way in which they stole the devices.

"You do run the risk of being taken in by the offender due to the reason given and it is human nature that members of the public may want to assist.

"But we would ask people to be very careful about handing over their phone when asked for it in such a situation.

"Quite apart from the high value of handsets, there is personal information and material stored on them which owners would not want to lose, for example photographs, texts or emails."

The offender in the Midland Road incident is said to be in his late twenties, white, about 5ft 8ins tall, with a brown beard. He was wearing a long brown jacket and a grey beany hat with a pink stripe.

The thief in the Bedford Street incident is described as having short, dark brown hair and brown eyes. He wore a blue hooded top under a black jacket, jeans and trainers.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting incident number 285 or 6/6/14.