Reminder to remain vigilant when using online selling sites
Main article content
Police in Hemel Hempstead are warning the public to think of personal safety and security first when considering travelling to meet someone to hand over property that has been advertised for sale online.
Detective Sergeant John Prendergast, from the Hemel Hempstead Local Crime Unit, said: “We are seeing a sharp rise in instances of people advertising items for sale on online marketplaces and being tricked into delivering goods to thieves.
“We have had a number of incidents in Three Cherry Trees Lane, the Woodhall Farm shopping precinct and Swallow Fields estate in recent times where items like iPhones, laptops, high value shoes and even televisions have been stolen.
“When the victims, who sometimes have no local knowledge about the location they are visiting, arrive at the arranged meet up points they hand over the goods to potential purchasers for examination and the offenders run off with the item without paying for it.
“In some cases, sellers are shown screenshots of bank transfers that have not been cleared and there have been incidents where the victims have been threatened.
“If you do want to use an online selling site please exercise caution, especially in circumstances where payment has not been made in advance.
“Make sure you look at the buyer’s profile to check their history and that they have genuine details. If you are arranging to meet someone to sell or buy an item, always meet in a busy public place covered by CCTV – check the location on Google Earth if the buyer suggests it to check it is not isolated or unsuitable looking – and take someone else with you. However, I must stress that even taking these precautions may not prevent you from becoming a victim of crime.
“It’s also worth being wary of people who offer to pay over the odds for an item. Many people use these sites to buy goods at a reduced price so, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
“If you have any suspicions or concerns about the person you are dealing with, walk away.”
If you believe you have been targeted in similar circumstances or think you may know who is committing crime in this way, please report it to police via the non-emergency number 101 or online.