Detectives from the 1 District St. Catharines office of the Niagara Regional Police Service are investigating a series of thefts in St. Catharines.
In each of the thefts the victims have posted online ads selling Apple iPhones or Apple Watches. A “buyer” contacts the victims stating they wish to buy the Apple product.
The victim and the suspect buyer agree to meet in person to complete the sale. When they come face to face the suspect buyer snatches the items and runs away. To date, the transactions have been linked to Facebook Market Place and Kijiji.
In most of the incidents the suspect has suggested a housing complex in the area of Manchester Avenue and Carleton Street in St. Catharines for the meet. In two of the incidents the suspect went to the victim’s residence and stole the item from the victim’s hands when they could.
Detectives have reason to believe that at least three to four males suspects are working together. The suspects are always well concealed as would be expected due to cold weather or COVID-19 safety protocols. The suspects are believed to be familiar with the housing complex where these thefts have mostly occurred as they are able to avoid detection, and camera footage. There is minimal descriptions of the suspects.
None of the victims have been injured.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 1 District detectives at 905-688-4111, extension 1024233.
Members of the public who wish to provide information anonymously can contact Crime Stoppers of Niagara online or by calling 1-800-222-8477. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards to persons who contact the program with information which leads to an arrest.
Click Here For Crime Stoppers Online
Members of the public should always be cautious and vigilant when meeting an unknown person from an online sales site.
General transaction safety tips:
Where possible, communicate via email so that a record is kept. Insist to meet at a public place, e.g., a coffee shop or a food court. Don’t go alone. Trust your instincts. Do not invite strangers into your home, and do not go to theirs. Be cautious when buying/selling high value items. Perform the transaction during daylight hours. If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is. Tell a friend or family member about your intentions. Take your cell phone with you. Do not carry large sums of cash. Consider e-transfers or 3rd party escrow services.
For more information, please see the “Safety” section at Kijiji