A man who claimed to have the coronavirus coughed on shop workers in an attempt to steal goods.
Officers were called to a store on Dudley High Street, in the Black Country, after reports from shoppers he was trying to steal and employing the unusual distraction technique.
West Midlands Police say a 57-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and assault on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, West Midlands Police said: "The man, who is from Dudley and has suspected mental health issues, has been taken into custody and will be questioned in due course.
"Those affected have been given appropriate advice and referred to the non-emergency NHS helpline for further support and guidance."
He was taken into custody for questioning and those affected by the incident have been referred to 111 for support.
Police across the UK are also dealing with a growing trend of Coronavirus-related fraud has seen reports of scams increase by 400% within the space of a month, City of London Police has warned.
It comes as the pandemic crisis worsens across the UK, where the death toll has reached 144. Of the 3,269 confirmed cases, 65 have recovered.
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The dead patients were aged between 47 and 96 years old and had underlying health conditions.
Globally, the death toll from Covid-19 passed 10,000 and infections exceeded 244,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
More than 86,000 people have recovered, mostly in China, but the pace is much slower than the spread of the virus.
Recovery takes two weeks or so for mild cases but can be up to six weeks for those that turn serious, according to the World Health Organisation.
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