Since October 8, police have responded to nine reports of meetups that ended in robberies or carjackings, the majority of which have occurred in the last two weeks. The suspects respond to sellers’ ads on letgo.com and arrange to meet and purchase the items for sale, in some cases threatening the sellers with a firearm or spraying them with pepper spray before robbing them of the electronics or vehicle being offered for sale.
In one instance that occurred on December 3 at approximately 1 p.m., a seller who was trying to sell a vehicle arranged to meet the suspects at his home in the Baturyn neighbourhood. After being given the keys for a test drive, the two male suspects stole the vehicle, dragging the seller for approximately 150 metres. He was uninjured.
In a few cases, the suspects posed as sellers, advertising items for sale on letgo, then robbing potential buyers at the meeting location.
The suspects are described as black males between the ages of 15 and 17, operating in groups of two or more. Investigators believe the crime series is attributable to a group of youths who are known to police. One 17-year-old male, who cannot be named due to his age, was arrested and charged with robbery with a weapon (x5), possess dangerous weapon (x2), and breach of recognizance, and has since been released on bail. A second suspect has been identified, and charges are pending.
“We want to remind citizens to use caution when meeting up with strangers. Arrange to meet in a safe, visible and public location, not at your home or in your vehicle, and bring another person with you,” says Det. Calvin Mah, EPS Northeast Division. “We also recommend that if the person has a profile photo, ask if they are the person depicted in that image, or ask for a photo or description. If the person who shows up at the meeting point does not match the person depicted, leave immediately. Above all, pay attention to your instincts. If something feels off at any point, abandon the sale.”
For more tips to prepare for a safer online buy-and-sell experience, visit the EPS website.
Anyone with information about this crime or the suspects is asked to contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.