Hookup heists spark warning from Phoenix PD - KCTV5

Hookup heists spark warning from Phoenix PD

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Investigative lead in Aug. 3 robbery. (Source: Phoenix Police Department) Investigative lead in Aug. 3 robbery. (Source: Phoenix Police Department)

Residents who try to sell jewelry and other goods online and later meet face-to-face with the buyer to complete the deal are falling prey to robbers, Phoenix police warn.

Officers are concerned about the dangers of meeting with strangers to complete the internet transactions.

On Sept. 4, a 21-year-old resident met with two men who came to his home to buy a camera the victim had advertised online. After one of the suspects examined the camera, both suspects pulled out handguns and robbed the victim of the camera and a laptop computer, said Phoenix police Officer James Holmes.

On the same day, officers arrested two juveniles in connection with a pair of similar robberies on Aug. 17 and Aug. 19. In each case, a person trying to sell Jordan shoes online was robbed after agreeing to meet the buyer face-to-face.

The buyer asked the victim in each case to meet her at a fast food restaurant in the area of South 99th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road. The buyer looked at the shoes then told the victim she needed some change and would be right back. While she was talking to the victim, a boy approached and took the shoes from the victim at gunpoint, Holmes said.

The shoes and other evidence related to the robberies were recovered by police. The juveniles were booked into the Juvenile Correction Center on two counts of armed robbery.

On Aug. 11, a man who advertised a piece of jewelry online was robbed at gunpoint after he agreed to meet the buyer in the parking lot of a Phoenix gas station in the area of North 27th Avenue and West Indian School Road, Holmes said. The robber also stole the man's wallet.

About a half hour later, the suspect tried to use the victim's credit card at a Circle K store at 702 W. McDowell Rd. 

A surveillance photo shows a person of interest trying to use the credit card.

Phoenix police have released a number of safety tips to avoid becoming a victim when conducting sales online: 

  • Perform all transactions in a public area with known video surveillance, such as a bank.
  • For smaller high value items, perform the transaction inside of a public business like a café.
  • Try not to perform transactions at your residence.
  • If the item you are selling is too big to reasonably transport to a public location then limit exposure of your residence and other belongings to the buyer.
  • Do not accept calls from restricted or blocked numbers.
  • Call the number back to ensure it is real.
  • Have other people with you during the transaction.
  • Trust your instincts. If it does not feel right, end the transaction and leave.
  • Check with your local police department to see if the item is reported stolen (guns, vehicles and other items with serial numbers). Get the serial number ahead of time. Just asking for the serial number or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) will make a person with a bad motive nervous.
  • Perform the transaction in front of a police station or in the immediate area.
  • Do not perform a transaction late at night.
  • Get the license plate of any vehicle driven by the buyer/seller or any other suspicious vehicle you see. Having too much information is better than having none.
  • Be extremely careful when selling high value items.
  • Keep your cell phone hidden but readily available as phones are a common item targeted by suspects.
  • Tell a friend or family member where you are going.
  • Holmes said the most commonly stolen products are brand name shoes, jewelry, computers and smartphones.

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