Police seeing recurrence of buy-and-sell robberies; Citizens advised against online sales meetups during pandemic

Edmonton, Alberta – The Edmonton Police Service is alerting citizens to a string of robberies involving cell phones offered for sale through online marketplaces such as Kijiji, Letgo and Facebook.

Last Thursday, March 26, at approximately 7 p.m., a seller and a male posing as an interested buyer had arranged through Kijiji to meet up in a parking lot in the area of 144 Avenue and 75 Street to complete the sale of a cell phone. It was reported to police that the male suspect arrived at the meeting location, pepper sprayed the seller and fled on foot with the phone.

Later that same evening, at approximately 9 p.m., a buyer and a male posing as a seller had arranged through Facebook to meet up in the area of 128 Avenue and 44 Street to complete the sale of a cell phone for the mutually agreed-upon price of $900. It was reported that the buyer was then accosted by two males armed with knives, who demanded the $900 in cash before fleeing the scene on foot.

Citizens advised against online sales meetups during pandemic
Citizens advised against online sales meetups during pandemic

On March 30 at approximately 10 p.m., another near-robbery occurred in the area of Menisa Park. In this instance, the suspect got into a vehicle with the seller and tried unsuccessfully to snatch the phone before producing a knife and fleeing on foot.

Police have not yet determined whether the three events are related.

“We always advise caution when meeting up with strangers, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, I would question whether we need to be having these meetups at all,” says Det. Calvin Mah, EPS Northeast Division. “There’s no easy way to examine and test the item and complete the sale while observing the two-meter distancing that is being asked of us by our health officials. If you must have a meetup, please do so in a safe, public location, such as the new EPS Safe Exchange Zone at our Southwest Division station, and practice social distancing and hand hygiene as recommended by AHS.”

The new EPS Safe Exchange Zone consists of two marked parking stalls at EPS Southwest Division, at 1351 Windermere Way. EPS members will not be available to assist citizens with negotiations of any property transactions at the Safe Exchange Zone.

Police also recommend that if you must meet in person to arrange a sale, bring someone else with you, tell a family member or friend when and where you are doing the transaction and when you expect to be done. Police also advise that you avoid bringing large amounts of cash to a transaction, and pay attention to your instincts. If something feels off at any point, abandon the sale.

Anyone with any information about this or any other crime is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.

MRU #: 20R034

Edmonton Police Service

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