Reseda. Police are warning the public to beware and follow some common-sense rules when buying or selling items through online sales services. A rash of robberies in the west San Fernando Valley have made police aware of criminals using the services as a means of finding or targeting victims.
"Whether you are offering for sale or buying an expensive item, the thief sees the chance of getting that item or the cash you bring," explained Lt. Kirk Kelley, acting commanding officer of the West Valley Patrol Division. "If you are buying, crooks are after the cash you will more assuredly bring; if you are selling, they are after the item based on your stated value."
Over the past two weeks, at least two unrelated robberies took place wherein criminals, posing as potential buyers, robbed sellers at gunpoint of either expensive jewelry or an iPhone.
"This is a new MO that goes beyond a single crew of thieves," added Lt. Kelley. "This is becoming a trend as the use of online sales services become more popular."
Here are some tips the public can follow to be safer when selling and buying online:
• Meet your potential buyer/seller at a safe, public place, like at a police station parking lot. A refusal to meet there should raise a red flag worth watching;
• Do NOT bring a buyer/seller to your home. This potentially brings a crook into your home to see ALL of what you might have to offer;
• Bring a companion with you on the sale;
• Be most cautious when selling expensive items that hold value, such as: jewelry antiques, collector's items, cell phones, coins. Crooks wants these items for resale.
• Remember, a person can be anyone they want to be, online. Crooks will create shill Facebook accounts.
"We offer this information so the public can be more aware," Lt. Kelley concluded. "Forewarned is forearmed."
Anyone with information is urged to call Lt. Kirk Kelley, West Valley Area, at (213) 374-7600. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may also visit www.lapdonline.org, and click on "Anonymous Web Tips" under the "Get Involved-Crime Stoppers" menu to submit an online tip. Lastly, tipsters may also download the "P3 Tips" mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.
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