Police mobile phone robbery warning

By Kyra Gillespie

Police are urging people to beware when buying or selling mobile phones via social media or online market places.

Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Hatt from the Southern Metro Region Crime Team said victims are being targeted by opportunistic criminals who are using these online market places to steal either your mobile phone or cash.

“In the past 12 months we saw a rise in this kind of offending across the Melbourne metropolitan area,” said D/S/Sgt Hatt.

“The majority of incidents reported to police involve the victim advertising to sell their phone and then having it stolen by force by someone posing as a buyer.

“There is also a common misconception that getting the buyer to attend your home is the safest way to sell your mobile phone however our intelligence shows this is where the thefts are most commonly taking place.

Police have also seen some instances where the person intending to buy a mobile phone has been robbed of their cash and mobile phone when they meet with a person posing as a seller.

“In both of these scenarios there have been incidents where the victim has also been assaulted,” said D/S/Sgt Hatt.

“Using online market places can be a good way to sell your phone however your safety is always the number one priority.”

If you’re planning on using an online site to sell your phone there are a few simple preventative measures you can take:

• Arrange to meet the buyer in a public place where there are CCTV cameras e.g. a shopping centre

• Consider what time of day you arrange to meet the buyer. Choose a time when there’s likely to be a lot of people around

• Take a friend or a family member with you when you go to meet the buyer

• Coordinate the exchange via phone call rather than text message

There are also a few behaviours from potential buyers that you should keep your eye out for:

• Changing the agreed transaction time and location at short notice

• Presenting themselves as a female buyer over the phone but a male arrives to conduct the transaction

• Attending the exchange location with multiple people

• Requesting to handle the phone before payment is made, often under the pretext of checking the IMEI number

If you need immediate police assistance always call Triple Zero (000). Report any suspicious behaviour to your local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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