VicPD arrested a male suspect after two reports “snatch and dash” cell phone thefts through Facebook Marketplace on Wednesday.
Officers were called to the 2200-block of Quadra Street just after 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 18 following reports of a robbery in progress. Following an investigation, police found that the suspect contacted the victim through Facebook Marketplace about buying a used iPhone 10. Upon arriving to examine the phone, the man took the phone out of the case and fled.
The suspect, described as a black man in a black windbreaker, red pants and a beige backpack, was not located by police. At 6:30 p.m. that day, a similar report came from the 1600-block of Hillside Avenue. A victim called about a cell phone theft and a foot chase. When officers arrived, they found the suspect being restrained by the victim’s family.
Upon investigating, officers found that the situation was similar to the “snatch and dash” incident from earlier in the day. Through Facebook Marketplace, the suspect had arranged a meeting with the victim in the food court of Hillside Mall to purchase her used phone. While examining the phone, the suspect ran off with the phone. The victim’s family captured and restrained the man until police arrived and he was taken into police custody.
Police said the suspect was released but will appear in court at a later date and anyone who witnessed either of the incidents is asked to come forward with information to assist with the ongoing investigation. Witnesses can call the police at 250-995-7654 or Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Officers advise that while these types of thefts aren’t common, people should take precautions when meeting people to sell their valuables. Const. Matt Rutherford suggests meeting in a public place or even in the lobby of the police station between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. He noted that if the other party doesn’t want to meet in public, it’s unwise to meet with them.
Rutherford also suggests communicating with the person in more than one method prior to meeting them and bringing a friend to the sale.