Three teenage girls have been arrested on suspicion of robbery after a student had her phone snatched from her hand as she sent a text message.
The 18-year-old victim, who has come to Preston from China to study at UCLan, was targeted as she walked on Patten Street in the city centre at around 4.50pm on Wednesday.
She was approached by at least two women who ran past her and grabbed the phone.
Det Sgt Martin Pearson, of Preston CID, said: “This was particularly distressing for the young woman, who is visiting the city, and we would urge other students to be vigilant particularly at this time of year.
“These incidents are rare but are often opportunistic.”
Three girls aged 14, 15 and 18, were being quizzed at Preston police station on suspicion of robbery.