Police are providing the public with safety tips for online purchases as they continue to investigate a January Craigslist exchange turned violent where the seller was robbed at gunpoint.
Cpl. Dennis Hwang appealed for the public’s help Wednesday to identify the suspect in the Jan. 4, 2019 crime.
According to police, a 38-year-old man from Richmond was selling a luxury watch on Craigslist. He arranged to meet a prospective buyer, but instead of purchasing the watch the “buyer” pointed a gun at the seller and robbed him.
The meeting happened in the 9600 block of Alberta Road, and Richmond’s frontline officers responded at the time.
The suspect was seen fleeing in a dark coloured, newer model Ford SUV.
Police say they have exhausted all investigational avenues, and released a sketch hoping someone could help identify the suspect. He’s described as a medium-built white man with a full sleeve tattoo on his right arm. He was wearing a camouflage hoodie, brown or gray jeans and a baseball cap.
Anyone with information should contact Const. K. Rao of the Richmond RCMP General Investigation Section at 604-278-1212. Please quote file # 2019-471.
Tips for meeting a buyer or seller:
Hwang also provided safety tips to anyone buying or selling things secondhand on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, WeChat or other online marketplaces.
He suggested meeting somewhere that’s public, such as a mall, food court, coffee shop or even a local police station.
“The lobby of the Richmond RCMP Detachment can be used as a ‘safe haven’ for this purpose,” Hwang said.
If the item is valuable, Hwang suggested bringing along a friend to have an extra set of ears and eyes in case things go sideways.
He also said it’s a good idea to get valid contact information from a seller or buyer, including a phone number.
He also advised people to trust their gut, and walk away from a transaction if something doesn’t feel right.
“Everyone loves a good deal,” Hwang said. "Marie Kondo’s helpful tidying tips ... may have inadvertently contributed to some great previously owned deals.”
Even if it's a good deal, though, Hwang asked people to keep safety in mind.