Police have issued a stark warning to people reporting false crimes that they will face prosecution if it is discovered they are wasting police time.

Officers investigating robberies and burglaries across the borough say valuable police time has been wasted investigating false offences, leaving them with less time to spend investigating genuine reports.

In recent months officers have spent time investigating armed robberies and burglaries which have turned out to be false.

On April 16, a 18-year-old claimed her phone had been stolen from her bag while in a Croydon nightclub.

When officers from Croydon town centre team began to investigate the 'crime' they tried to get in touch with the victim to clarify what she was wearing and who she was with on the night of the theft, with a view to look at the club's CCTV footage.

But when officers checked her name and details they found she had not attended the club that night. Officers later found out from the victim's friend she had admitted losing her phone and she was fined £80 for wasting police time.

A 15-year-old boy received a police caution after claiming he was robbed at gunpoint in Station Road, on June 16.

The schoolboy claimed he was threatened with a gun during the incident at about 9.45pm. While investigating officers scoured CCTV footage from the area, but the boy later admitted the report was false.

A 14-year-old girl was also given a police caution after claiming she was threatened with a knife during a burglary at her Thornton Heath home in which she claimed her i-pod, blackberry and i-pad were stolen.

Detective Inspector Brian Hobbs of Croydon robbery department said some people make false reports to claim on insurance, and others are often young people who have accidentally lost their phone.

He said: "We take every report very seriously and huge resources go into investigating robberies, burglaries and gun crime. Making false allegations wastes time, money and distorts the crime statistics, creating a false climate of fear.

"Be warned if you make false allegations you will go from being a victim of crime to a suspect of one."