Police warn about surge in robberies linked to popular buy-and-sell app
A woman uses a smartphone in an image from shutterstock.com
VANCOUVER -- Police have issued a warning about an increase in robberies they say are linked to people using a popular buy-and-sell app.
Surrey RCMP said the recent surge in robberies have taken place during meet-ups where people try to buy or sell high valued items advertised on the app, LetGo. The app is similar to Craigslist or Kijiji where people advertise second-hand items for sale.
In each incident, people had their cash or items stolen, and they were also assaulted or threatened. The most recent robberies took place on March 14 and 15.
"Surrey RCMP would like all residents to be aware of the risk associated to using online marketplace apps, which facilitate the necessity to meet unknown people to complete transactions," said Const. Richard Wright in a news release. "There is a risk to meeting up with people you do not know, particularly when arranging the exchange of high valued items or cash."
Officers are reminding people who use the app to meet people during the day in public places, such as a local business with regular foot traffic. They also suggest confirming cell phone numbers prior to meeting in-person and not solely communicating through the app. Police also advise bringing a friend, a cell phone, and telling someone such as a friend or family member where and when the meet-up is supposed to take place. However, police are encouraging people to remember that there are still safety issues posed by meeting strangers, even in public places.
Mounties issued a similar warning about robberies linked to the app in September 2019. Four victims were mugged after meeting someone to buy a cell phone that had been advertised on the app.
In February, Mounties recovered more than $80,000 worth of stolen property, some of which had been advertised for sale on LetGo. The seized items included 40 high-end bicycles, power tools, and several pellet guns.
Anyone with information about any of the robberies connected to the LetGo app is asked to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS if they wish to remain anonymous.