Mounties in Surrey are investigating a series of robberies in which the suspects arranged to meet the victims by posing as buyers for gaming consoles on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
The first of the three incidents took place shortly after 8 p.m. Monday, Surrey RCMP said in a news release.
The victim was looking to sell a PlayStation 5 – a new console released just four days earlier. The seller arranged a meeting with a purported buyer through Facebook Marketplace, near the intersection of 136A Street and 114 Avenue, according to police.
“At the meeting location, two men assaulted the seller and stole the gaming console,” police said in their release.
Police said the victim described one of the suspects as a young man with a slender build who was wearing a mask and a black or grey zip-up hooded sweater. He stood roughly 5’11” tall.
The second suspect was slightly taller and bigger than the first and appeared Middle Eastern, police said.
The other two incidents occurred on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the first.
At 3 p.m. police were called to the 6100 block of 146 Street, where a man had been robbed of his Xbox after arranging a meeting with a prospective buyer through Craigslist. At the meeting location, three men bear-sprayed and robbed the seller, police said.
Then, about an hour later, police got another call about a near-identical robbery. This one happened in the 8200 block of 168A Street, where the seller of a PlayStation 5 was met by three men, bear-sprayed and robbed of the console. The three suspects in this case were described as South Asian men, police said.
Surrey RCMP said they are working to identify the suspects in all three incidents, adding that they believe at least the last two were perpetrated by the same suspects.
They advised the public to use caution when arranging meet-ups using online marketplaces.
Police advise sellers to insist on daytime meetings in public places; to gather information about the prospective buyer, including their full name and cell phone number; to tell a friend or family member about the meeting; to bring a friend to the meeting, if possible; and to be especially careful when selling expensive items.
Surrey is not the only place that robberies involving new gaming consoles have been reported in recent weeks.
On Monday, Toronto police offered similar advice to sellers after receiving “numerous reports of robberies.”
The Xbox Series X and S consoles were released in North America on Nov. 10. The PlayStation 5 was released on Nov. 12.