Three people have been arrested in a string of robberies of people buying or selling electronic devices online.
Police issued a public warning on Sept. 1, 2022, after five people reported robberies in northwest Edmonton between Aug. 21 and Sept. 1.
In each case, a person responding to or posting an online ad regarding a tablet or phone for sale agreed to meet the buyer and seller in person, police said.
When the victim arrived, they were robbed of their device or cash, in some cases under threat of a weapon.
Police have since determined the five robberies were linked and learned about six additional robberies which have also been connected, including one in Fort Saskatchewan.
One of the additional victims suffered non-life threatening injuries.
In total, more than $16,000 worth of property was reported stolen during the robberies with the thieves primarily targeting high-priced phones and tablets.
In September and October of 2023, police arrested three men in connection with the robberies: two 19-year-olds and a 20-year-old.
One was a minor at the time of the robberies.
They are facing a combined total of 11 robbery charges, and the man who was 18 at the time of the robberies has been charged with two counts of using an imitation firearm while committing an indictable offence.
“Personal robbery can be a traumatic experience, particularly when threatened with a weapon, and we are hopeful these arrests will bring some closure to those citizens impacted,” said Staff Sgt.Andrew Larson with the EPS Investigative Response Team in a Tuesday news release.
Police are reminding the public of the following tips for buying and selling online:
- Suggest meeting the buyer/seller during the day at a public location, ideally with video surveillance, such as one of the EPS Buy and Sell Exchange Zones.
- Do not meet in a secluded place or invite strangers into your home.
- Have someone come with you when you meet. If you cannot arrange for someone to accompany you, let friends or family know where you are going, what time you are meeting and all the details about who you are meeting.
- Take screenshots of the buyer’s/seller’s contact information and all communications in the application or website you are using. Ask them for photo ID and other contact information and take a photo of it for your reference.
- If you are robbed of your belongings, call for help as soon as it is safe to do so and report any suspicious persons, vehicles, or activities to police.
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