Vancouver police are warning the public to be cautious following a series of violent robberies involving in-person arrangements to buy or sell items.
There have been three incidents reported since the weekend of Sept. 24-25, says Sgt. Steve Addison of the VPD. He notes that each robbery occurred in a public place and involved someone trying to sell used items on Facebook Marketplace.
The latest robbery happened around 8 p.m. Monday night (Sept. 26) at a coffee shop in Kerrisdale when a man trying to sell a designer watch was robbed at gunpoint after agreeing to meet for the exchange. The suspect entered the coffee shop, pointed the gun, and stole the watch before fleeing into a waiting vehicle. He is described as a man in his 30s with a beard.
Previous incidents include:
- A 21-year-old man who was trying to sell a used phone. An unknown buyer named Matthew asked to meet up around 7 p.m. in Champlain Heights on Sept. 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.
- On Sept. 25 around noon, a man in his 30s 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 buyer, who is a teenage boy, grabbed the phones and ran away. The victim was unharmed.
“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 Addison.
He adds that “each of these victims took precautions and arranged to meet in a public place. Still, that wasn’t enough to prevent them from being robbed."
To prevent further incidents, the Vancouver Police Department is offering anyone who is planning to meet with a stranger to buy or sell used items to do so outside of VPD headquarters at 2120 Cambie St.
“We have a safe-exchange location that is well lit and monitored by security cameras,” says Addison.
Vancouver Police are now investigating to determine whether the three recent cases are linked or isolated, and continue to encourage anyone who has been victimized to call 604-717-3321.
Anyone who sees a crime in progress or is victim of a crime in progress is asked to call 911 immediately.