Victoria Police have arrested one man following two incidents of theft during transactions arranged through Facebook Marketplace.
Two similar incidents occurred within five hours of each other on Wednesday December 18th, and officers were able to apprehend the suspect after the second attempted theft.
The first incident happened just after 1:30 p.m. in the 2200-block of Quadra Street
Officers attended the scene after reports of a robbery, and found that the victim had arranged to sell an iPhone 10 through Facebook Marketplace.
However when the prospective buyer arrived, he took the phone under pretext of examining it before the sale and then fled. Police were unable to find him after searching the area.
The suspect was described as a black man wearing a black windbreaker, red pants and carrying a beige backpack.
Five hours later at around 6:30 p.m., an attempted theft was reported in the 1600-block of Hillside Avenue, at Hillside shopping centre.
An individual had arranged to meet the prospective buyer in the food court area to sell their used phone, when the suspect took the phone under pretext of observing it and trying to run away.
That’s when relatives of the would-be victim gave chase, captured the suspect, and restrained him until police arrived and took him into custody.
Based on the suspect description from the previous incident, and the way in which he attempted to steal the phone in this incident closely resembles the incident that occurred earlier in the day.
While this file remains under investigation, the suspect has been released from custody pending a later court date.
In the wake of these incidents, Victoria Police are reminding the public to ensure that all transactions arranged online be carried out in a public place.
To this end, they have offered the lobby of the VicPD detachment at 850 Caledonia Avenue as a meeting point and exchange location between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Officers are also encouraging people to bring friends or family with them when conducting these exchanges.
Police are seeking witnesses in the aforementioned incidents. Anyone with information about either case is asked to contact VicPD at 250-995-7654, or call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-22-8477.