Edmonton police warn of ‘bad guys’ on the other end of Kijiji, Craigslist deals

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WATCH ABOVE: Buying and selling things online is how many people find bargains. But as Kendra Slugoski reports, police say online bargain hunters need to take steps to shop safely – Feb 4, 2016

EDMONTON — Edmonton police are warning the public to be vigilant when meeting anyone buying or selling items online.

The Edmonton Police Service says it sees a steady stream of people reporting personal robberies after meeting someone to buy an item they were selling on an online classified site like Kijiji or Craigslist.

“They go to meet somebody and there’s a bad guy at the other end. That can be a rather frightening experience,” EPS spokesperson Scott Pattison said.

“They’ve placed themselves in a vulnerable position with somebody who may be ruthless, may have a weapon, may be intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or just has no ethics and would go to any length… to get that asset that they want.”

One file the EPS recently investigated involved a man who was buying a used vehicle from an online seller. Pattison said the man showed up to meet the seller, who arrived in a vehicle with several other people. The suspects robbed the man, getting away with his car, personal documents, money and credit cards, Pattison said.

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“This was done at gunpoint,” Pattison said, adding an arrest was made in the robbery.

Police agencies in several cities across Canada have created “safe zones” in police station parking lots for those buying and selling items online. One of those cities is Calgary, which allows the public to use any of the police station parking lots at any time of day.

“Police are always just around the corner at a police station,” Const. Paul Tweorte with the Calgary Police Service said. “I’ve heard from a few members of the public and friends, as well, who have used the system and they said that it’s been fantastic.”

READ MORE: Police creating ‘safe zones’ for those buying and selling online

Pattison said allowing the public to use police parking lots is not something the EPS is considering right now. Instead, the EPS offers the following tips to those using online buy and sell sites:

  • Meet the other person in a public place – try for a location with surveillance cameras.
  • Meet during the day when it’s light outside.
  • Keep all records of communication with the buyer/seller in case you have to file a police report.
  • Bring another person with you when meeting a buyer/seller.
  • Ask the buyer/seller a lot of questions before agreeing to the deal.

“‘Why are you selling this merchandise?’ Ask questions like that so that you can ensure that the answers you get make you feel comfortable that you’re getting, as best to your knowledge, something that’s not stolen,” Pattison added.

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For more tips on how to stay safe when meeting an online buyer/seller in person, visit the Edmonton Police Service’s website.

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