Calgary, AB,

Media Advisory: Police issue safety warning for buy-and-sell transactions

With 75 reported robberies and thefts that have occurred during public buy-and-sell transactions so far this year, we are urging citizens to practice safety when meeting strangers to sell electronics.

Of those reported incidents, 26 per cent have included violence or threats of violence, with eight incidents involving a weapon.

“What we’re seeing is offenders posing as interested buyers of cell phones, laptops and other electronics who agree to meet up with the seller and then threaten or harm them in order to get the item without paying for it,” says Detective Darcy Williams of the Calgary Police Service.

Some of these incidents are brazen and occur in public places during the day, causing concern for public safety. With more people wearing protective face coverings as a result of the pandemic, it can be difficult for victims or witnesses to describe or identify masked offenders.

“We are asking the public to take all necessary precautions when selling an item to a stranger. Police district parking lots can be used to conduct transactions, that way help is close by if needed,” says Detective Williams.

When using online classified sites to post items for sale, it is recommended that sellers take screenshots of the buyer’s online account or profile, as well as document all communication exchanges including text messages or emails. Some online classified sites also have the option to screenshot the personalized link to the buyer’s personal social media account.

Screenshot examples are available on the City of Calgary Newsroom.

The Calgary Police Service reminds citizens of the following safety tips when engaging in buy-and-sell transactions:

  • Always meet in a public place such as a coffee shop or a police district parking lot. Consider taking someone along with you. Refrain from going to a stranger’s house to deliver items or arranging to meet at your own residence.
  • Stay alert and observe your surroundings. Be sure to tell someone where you are and when you plan to return home, especially if you are traveling alone.
  • Keep your personal belongings close to you and be careful of anyone attempting to divert your attention away from your property.
  • Trust your instincts. If at any time you do not feel safe, move to a safe crowd of people, a lighted area or avoid the area altogether.
  • Be a good witness. If you witness someone else being assaulted or harassed, consider possible actions that will not put you or others in harms way. Call police if there is immediate danger or a threat to public safety.
  • Always report suspicious people, behaviour or crimes in progress to law enforcement by calling 9-1-1.

We encourage anyone who has been a victim of a theft or a robbery during a buy-and-sell transaction to report the incident to police so that evidence can be gathered and investigated in a timely manner. Crimes can be reported by calling the police non-emergency number at 403-266-1234 or by calling 9-1-1 for a crime in progress.