Brighton revellers are being warned to be on their guard following a spate of thefts by “hugger muggers” who cuddle their victims before rifling through their pockets.

A man was charged and three others were arrested last weekend following a series of incidents in Brighton and Hove.

The first took place in the early hours of Saturday morning (January 18).

At 1.15am a 17-year old boy was walking along North Street when he was approached by a man and woman, both described as being of Eastern European appearance.

The woman took his mobile phone and when he tried to get it back the man punched and kicked him to the ground.

Around an hour later, two men approached a 19-year old man in Kings Road.

They started a conversation and hugged him before talking his mobile phone. A third suspect then kicked the victim's legs, and all three ran off.

The third incident saw two men start a conversation with a man in Pavilion Gardens after he asked them for a light.

They hugged him and took his mobile phone after holding a sharp object to his head.

At 3am two men approached a man waiting at a bus stop near Pavilion Gardens and after talking to him they snatched his mobile phone. There was a scuffle before the two suspects ran off.

A police spokesman warned people on nights out to be particularly careful.

He added: “We are reminding people to be aware of being approached in the early hours of the morning, normally around pubs and clubs, by suspects who at first pretend to be friendly and sometimes hug them.

“The victim is caught off guard and the suspects then steal the victim's phone or wallet/purse from their pockets.

“This is carried out by one suspect hugging them, or by another suspect waiting nearby.

“In October last year five suspects were arrested, two of whom were charged with theft from people.”

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call police on 101 quoting serial 0077 of 18/1.

  • Ahmed Boudabbous, 18, of Cobham Street, Gravesend, has been charged with robbery on January 18. A 20-year old man from Gravesend, arrested on suspicion of robbery, was subsequently released on police bail until February 9 while a 16-year-old boy and a 15-year old girl, both from Gravesend, were arrested on suspicion of robbery and released on police bail until February 8.