California police are circulating a caricature of a suspect who allegedly stole $500 from the artist who painted it.

"And no, we are not kidding", police said.

While working at a festival in downtown Riverside on 5 December, the artist was approached by the alleged thief, who requested a portrait of himself, according to police.

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Once the artist finished, the suspect grabbed a money bag containing $500 that belonged to the victim, then ran away, leaving behind a cartoonish portrait of himself.

Riverside police note that the portrait "of course has exaggerated characteristics and features" but is sharing the image to seek information from the public.

The suspect was described as a black man in his early 20s, standing 5 feet 1 inches tall, with black hair and a moustache, and wearing a blue and red jacket, white undershirt, black pants, and red hat.

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