Police are urging Sumter County residents to use “extreme caution” when meeting with prospective buyers of items placed for sale on the Facebook marketplace after three armed robberies were linked to those exchanges.
All three robberies reported took place during daylight hours at a location agreed upon by both the buyer and the person selling the goods, according to a news release by the Sumter Police Department.
The first incident took place on Nov. 2, when the seller of a “gaming equipment” and a long gun was met at a park by two men who held him at gunpoint, while they robbed him of the items, the release stated. The gunmen ordered the seller to drive away from the scene.
Later that day around 5 p.m., another seller of “video gaming equipment” was held at gunpoint while being robbed, according to the release. During that incident, the two men drove off in a white SUV.
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The third, most recent, incident took place Wednesday, when another seller of “video gaming equipment” was robbed at gunpoint. No one has been injured during the robberies.
The suspects are described as men in their 20s. One is described as being about six-feet tall, while the other is shorter. No additional details were available.
“Although internet exchange sites are a popular, convenient means to exchange goods, both buyers and sellers should use extreme caution and consider who they’re doing business with and where,” the police release stated. “Only exchange items in designated locations for internet sales locations that are provided by law enforcement. If not, please meet in areas that are highly visible and well-trafficked.”
The Sumter Police department, like with most police and sheriff’s departments,” provides an exchange sites. Most internet exchange sites are monitored by cameras.
Though the trend of robbing sellers and buyers from the Facebook marketplace, Letgo or OfferUp is recent, since the services are relatively new, robbing would-be internet buyers or sellers is not. And meeting in low-trafficked areas can lead to deadly confrontations.
In June, a 21-year-old was killed while trying to buy a phone posted on Craigslist in Charlotte, N.C. In 2015, another 21-year-old was killed while meeting a supposed seller of an iPhone 6. On Tuesday, a jury convicted his killer in Georgia.
Cynthia Roldán: @CynthiaRoldan