Kansas City Police Urge Caution After Pattern of Robbery and Theft from Online Sales

Kansas City, MO (STL.News) Kansas City Police are investigating a pattern of robberies and thefts of victims who attempted to buy and sell electronics from Facebook Marketplace and similar sites.

Since December 16, there have been about half a dozen robberies and about half a dozen thefts in which the suspects post electronics for sale on Facebook Marketplace and similar sites.  In the robberies, when the buyers agreed to meet up for the sale, they were confronted by armed suspects.  In the stealing cases, sellers have advertised electronics for sale online.  When they met up with the purported buyers, the suspects stole the electronics they were trying to sell.

Police urge anyone conducting an in-person transaction that originated from an online posting like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, LetGo, Craigslist, etc. to meet at a designated internet exchange zone in any of KCPD’s six patrol division parking lots.  If a buyer or seller is unwilling to meet there, that should be a red flag.

Other tips for staying safe when buying and selling online:

  • Do NOT accept a last-second change in location under any circumstance.  This is a common tactic used to lure people to potentially dangerous areas. 
  • Be cautious of high-value items (current phones or laptops) that have a “too good to be true” list price.  Sellers may use the low price as a reason for you to have to accommodate them, and meet them in a questionable location. 
  • Meet at a police station or a location with a safe exchange zone under the watch of surveillance cameras. Do not jeopardize your safety for the sake of convenience.
  • Always try to bring an extra person when buying or selling.
  • Keep all communication with the buyer/seller on the app.  Do not give your personal It is best if the conversation is linked to all accounts involved.
  • Use the app to look at the profile of the buyer/seller.  Does the service offer a verified status? If it’s Facebook, is it a new profile with little to no information?  Craigslist works with almost total anonymity and offers the fewest safeguards.
  • If possible, do not use cash. Apps such as Venmo, PayPal, and Cash have made securely transferring money possible.  Carrying cash is a liability and could set you up to be a victim of a violent crime.