Calgary police issue safety warning after 75 robberies reported from buy-and-sell transactions this year

CALGARY — Having received dozens of reports of robberies so far this year, police are urging Calgarians to take precautions before meeting strangers to sell electronics.

Of the 75reported incidents, 26 per cent have included violence or threats of violence, with eight incidents involving a weapon.

“What we’re seeing is offenders posing as interested buyers of cell phones, laptops and other electronics who agree to meet up with the seller and then threaten or harm them in order to get the item without paying for it,” said Det. Darcy Williams.

Police say some of the robberies have been brazen, happening in public places during the day, which is cause for concern.

And with many people wearing protective face coverings as a result of the pandemic, it can be difficult for victims or witnesses to describe or identify masked offenders.

“We are asking the public to take all necessary precautions when selling an item to a stranger,” said Williams.

“Police district parking lots can be used to conduct transactions, that way help is close by if needed.”

When using online classified sites to post items for sale, police recommended sellers take screenshots of the buyer’s online account or profile, as well as document all communication exchanges, including text messages or emails.

Some online classified sites also have the option to screenshot the personalized link to the buyer’s social media account.

Police offered a number of other safety tips, including:

  • Always meet in a public place such as a coffee shop or a police district parking lot. Consider taking someone along with you. Refrain from going to a stranger’s house to deliver items or arranging to meet at your own residence.
  • Stay alert and observe your surroundings. Be sure to tell someone where you are and when you plan to return home, especially if you are traveling alone.
  • Keep your personal belongings close to you and be careful of anyone attempting to divert your attention away from your property.
  • Trust your instincts. If at any time you do not feel safe, move to a safe crowd of people, a lighted area or avoid the area altogether.
  • Be a good witness. If you witness someone else being assaulted or harassed, consider possible actions that will not put you or others in harms way. Call police if there is immediate danger or a threat to public safety.
  • Always report suspicious people, behaviour or crimes in progress to law enforcement by calling 911.

Anyone who is the victim of theft during a sale should report it to police at 403-266-1234, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or calling 911 for a crime in progress.


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