The incident happened Monday at a miniature golf course in the San Fernando Valley area, the Los Angeles Times reported late Tuesday.
“He has been accused of attempted robbery,” Officer Rosario Herrera told the Times.
The paper said Bieber is not accused of keeping the phone.
It is the latest in a series of run-ins with the law for the 20-year-old entertainer.
He is due to stand trial July 7 in Miami for allegedly driving while under the influence of drugs.
Bieber has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence of substances, resisting arrest and driving with an expired license after being arrested in Miami Beach on Jan. 23 for taking part in an illegal street race in his Lamborghini.
Police said he had smoked marijuana and taken Xanax tranquilizers.
He has a hearing pending in Canada into accusations he assaulted a limousine driver last year, and was investigated in Los Angeles for allegedly throwing eggs at a neighbor‘s house.