Police are issuing a public warning after people were robbed at gunpoint while trying to sell or trade merchandise using Facebook Marketplace.
Vancouver police say the latest incident happened Monday night in Kerrisdale when a man pulled a gun on someone when they met at a coffee shop about 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,” said Sgt. Steve Addison in the public alert.
“Though there have been three incidents reported since the weekend, there are likely other victims who have not yet come forward.”
All of the robberies happened in a public place and involved a person trying to sell used goods through Facebook.
The three recent reports are:
• A 21-year-old man who wanted to sell a used phone agreed to meet a buyer supposedly named Matthew at about 7 p.m. Saturday in Champlain Heights. He was met by two men in their late teens who robbed him of his phone and hit him in the head with a weapon and bear-sprayed him. The victim needed medical treatment for his injuries.
• At about noon on Sunday, a man in his 30s agreed to meet someone, again in Champlain Heights, to sell two used iPhones. “Shortly after meeting the suspect, a teenaged boy, grabbed the phones and ran away.” The victim was unhurt.
• At about 8 p.m. Monday, a man selling a designer watch was robbed at gunpoint. The suspect, a man in his 30s with a beard, walked into the coffee shop, pointed the gun and stole the watch then fled in a waiting vehicle.
“Each of these victims took precautions and arranged to meet in a public place,” noted Addison. “Still, that wasn’t enough to prevent them from being robbed and victimized — and that has us incredibly concerned.”
Investigators are trying to figure out whether the three incidents are linked.
For their safety, those trying to buy or sell used goods are invited to meet the other party outside Vancouver police headquarters at 2120 Cambie St.
“We have a safe-exchange location that is well lit and monitored by security cameras,” said 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.”
Anyone who is the victim of or spots a crime in progress is urged to call 911; if you’ve been victimized and haven’t reported it, call police at 604-717-3321.