For the third time in three weeks, a person has reportedly been robbed in the same Kitchener neighbourhood after meeting for a cellphone deal arranged through an online classified ad, according to Waterloo Regional Police.
On Friday at around 7 p.m., a man reportedly met with two other men in a parking lot on Upper Canada Drive to complete an arrangement that had been made on a classified ad site.
Police allege the two men assaulted the other man and took off with his phone.
This incident follows on the heels of a robbery reported on July 31 that also occurred on Upper Canada Drive.
In that case, police say a man met with a second man, who was looking to complete a deal that had been arranged through an online classified site for a cellphone.
The victim was allegedly sprayed with a noxious substance by the potential buyer, who then fled the scene on foot with the cellphone in hand, according to police.
A day later, police were called to Bechtel Drive and Doon Village Road for a similar report.
The victim, in this case, was also reportedly meeting up with a man who was looking to purchase an iPhone from him. The deal had been arranged through a classified ads site, police say.
The buyer allegedly sprayed his victim with a noxious substance before fleeing the scene on foot with the iPhone.
Police have not said whether the three incidents are connected, but officers launched a campaign earlier in the summer to try and raise awareness about the precautions people should take when completing such a deal.
“We’ve seen a rash of robberies, which is why we have released our Once Upon a Crime campaign,” Waterloo police spokesperson Cherri Greeno said. “A lot of people may think that this is just something that happens to somebody else and they are taking the proper safety precautions, but this campaign just highlights the fact that it can happen to anyone at any time.”
She suggested residents not provide any personal information to potential buyers and sellers and also encouraged people to search for them through an online search engine.
Greeno also suggested asking where a possible item for sale may have come from and to meet in a public space where there are plenty of cameras.
She said parking lots of police stations would be a safe option.
Do not e-transfer any money until you receive the item and do not meet alone or at someone’s home, Greeno added.
“Follow your gut — if something feels wrong, it likely is,” she warned.