Two women approached a pedestrian in Ashford to tell her their mother had died - and then stole her jewellery.
Police said they cried while talking to their victim, a 35-year-old nurse, and put necklaces around her neck.
The victim pushed them away and started to remove the jewellery, but realised her own gold necklace was missing.
Police said the "unusual" distraction theft happened on the corner of Church Road and Osborne Road in Willesborough on Saturday afternoon.
The thieves, who had got out of a car before approaching the nurse, drove off after the theft which happened between 1500 GMT and 1530 GMT.
Before the women drove off, they threw necklaces at the victim, and also a bracelet and a ring.
Appealing for witnesses, Sgt Alice Parton said the distraction technique could be intimidating if used on an older or vulnerable person.