Freeport Police warn of rise in robberies involving meetups to conduct deals made online

Local News

FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO) — Online shopping is something many people do on a daily basis, but police say it’s important to be safe when it comes to buying or selling an item to a stranger.

“In the past, people have said to go to a place where there’s a lot of people,” said Freeport Police Deputy Chief Travis Davis. “We’ve kind of transitioned from that into, now, you should go to safe places, particularly police stations.”

Online shopper Tyler Vodkin agrees. “That’s the big fear with online shopping, [that] you can essentially be catfished. You show up and they’re not selling…or anything at all, right? My sisters do the whole Craigslist thing. I haven’t heard of anything go terrible, but I do know they bring their husbands with them.”

Early Thursday morning, a Freeport teen was shot at by an armed robber after he arranged to sell a cell phone on social media.

Police say he wasn’t hurt, but similar crimes are becoming more common.

“We have certainly seen a rise in those crimes lately, but it’s generally one of those things that happen from time to time,” Davis said.

Davis says there are steps residents can take to keep themselves safe.

“Make sure you know who is selling the item, or who is buying the item,” he offered. “You certainly want to make sure you’re not giving the buyer too much information, or the seller, too much of your personal information. You certainly want to make sure you meet at a good place at a good time of day.”

Shoppers told our reporter they use the “buddy system” when conducting transactions.

“Let somebody know where you’re going and what’s going on,” said Brenda Myers. “Just because, if it does go south, you have a backup.”

“We have to talk to our kids and our grand kids and make sure they’re using their head,” said Susan Perry. “If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Stay safe.”

Davis says residents can use resources like safetradestations.com to check out safety areas close by.

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