Ottawa Police Services – The Robbery Unit has noticed an increase in personal robberies for items such as clothing and phones from prearranged meetings made as a result of social media or other website ads.
It is important to consider that most of the robberies take place when the ‘buyer’ sees the seller enter a parking lot or establishment and intercepts them before they reach the agreed upon location to exchange items and funds. This isolates the victim and making it easier not to draw attention to the ongoing robbery.
While police look into these robberies, they want the public to be aware of the risks associated with conducting private sales, especially in advance of holiday season.
Make your personal safety a priority and consider the following tips before making arrangements to meet someone:
- When buying or selling items online, make arrangements to meet in a public place with many people around, ideally during daylight hours and at a location that is under video surveillance;
- Don’t go alone, bring a friend;
- Take something with you that makes a loud noise, such as a personal alarm or whistle;
- Speak with the potential buyer/seller over the phone ahead of the meet up. If something seems suspicious, walk/drive away;
- At the meeting, write down the licence plate of the other party’s vehicle;
- Thoroughly inspect the product and then exchange funds; and,
- If you are purchasing a cell phone, ensure you get the IMEI number and call any service provider to verify that it is not lost/stolen. Once you have the phone, make sure the IMEI # is the same as the one you pre-checked.
Should you become a victim of a similar robbery:
- And for any crime in progress, call 911;
- Do not resist your attacker(s), they may be armed and this could lead to serious injury or death;
- Try and memorize their faces, clothing and licence plates if they leave in vehicles; and,
- Report the incident to Police as soon as possible.
Anyone with information about personal robberies is asked to call the Ottawa Police Service Robbery Unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5116.
Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca.