Vancouver – Vancouver Police are warning anyone trying to sell or trade merchandise online to take extra precautions when meeting in person, after a series of violent robberies this week.
The latest robbery occurred last night in Kerrisdale, when a man pulled a gun inside a coffee shop after convincing someone to meet him there to buy a used watch.
“We’ve seen an uptick in these incidents over the past couple days, and the use of a firearm increases our urgency to identify the people responsible,” says Sergeant Steve Addison.
“Though there have been three incidents reported since the weekend, there are likely other victims who have not yet come forward.”
Each of the robberies reported to the VPD since the weekend occurred in a public place, and involved someone trying to sell used merchandise on Facebook Marketplace.
Incidents of note:
- A 21-year-old man was trying to sell a used phone when an unknown buyer named Matthew asked to meet up around 7 p.m. in Champlain Heights on Saturday, September 24. When the victim arrived, he was met by two men who appeared to be in their late teens. They robbed him of his phone and hit the victim in the head with a weapon, then attacked him with bear spray. The victim was injured and required medical treatment.
- Around noon on Sunday, September 25, a man in his thirties agreed to meet someone in Champlain Heights to sell two used iPhones, which had been posted for sale on Facebook Marketplace. Shortly after meeting, the suspect – a teenaged boy – grabbed the phones and ran away. The victim was unharmed.
- A man trying to sell a designer watch was robbed at gunpoint after agreeing to meet someone at a coffee shop in Kerrisdale around 8 p.m. yesterday. The suspect – a man in his 30s with a beard – entered the business, pointed the gun, then stole the watch before fleeing into a waiting vehicle.
“Each of these victims took precautions and arranged to meet in a public place,” adds Sergeant Addison. “Still, that wasn’t enough to prevent them from being robbed and victimized – and that has us incredibly concerned.”
Vancouver Police are now investigating to determine whether the three recent cases are linked, or isolated. Police invite anyone meeting up with a stranger to buy or sell used goods to do so outside VPD headquarters at 2120 Cambie Street.
“We have a safe-exchange location that is well lit and monitored by security cameras,” adds Sergeant Addison. “This is a safer place to meet if you’re planning on buying or selling something online, and we encourage everyone to use it.”
Police continue to encourage anyone who sees a crime in progress or is victim of a crime in progress to call 9-1-1 immediately. Anyone who has been victimized but has not yet contacted police should call 604-717-3321 if there is no longer an imminent safety risk.