Detectives from the Niagara Regional Police Service’s St. Catharines District 1 office are investigating a series of thefts in St. Catharines.

In each of the thefts, victims posted ads online selling iPhones or Apple watches. A “buyer” contacts the victims indicating that they wish to purchase the Apple product.

The victim and the suspect buyer agree to meet in person to complete the sale. When they come face to face, the suspicious buyer grabs the items and runs away. To date, transactions have been linked to Facebook Market Place and Kijiji.

In most incidents, the suspect has suggested a housing complex in the Manchester Avenue and Carleton Street area of ​​St. Catharines for the meeting. In two of the incidents, the suspect went to the victim’s home and stole the object from the victim’s hands when they could.

Detectives have reason to believe that at least three to four male suspects are working together. Suspects are still well hidden as one would expect due to cold weather or COVID-19 security protocols. The suspects are believed to be familiar with the housing complex where these thefts mainly took place, as they are able to avoid detection and camera footage. There are few descriptions of the suspects.

None of the victims were injured.

Anyone with information is urged to contact District 1 Detectives at 905-688-4111, ext. 1024233.

Members of the public wishing to provide information anonymously can contact Niagara Crime Stoppers online or by calling 1-800-222-8477. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards to people who contact the program with information that leads to an arrest.

Click here for Online Crime Stoppers

Members of the public should always be careful and alert when meeting an unknown person from an online shopping site.

General advice on transaction security:

  • Whenever possible, communicate by e-mail so that a record is kept.
  • Insist on meeting in a public place, such as a cafe or food court.
  • Don’t go alone.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • Do not invite strangers to your home and do not go to their homes.
  • Be careful when buying / selling high value items.
  • Carry out the transaction during daylight hours.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.
  • Talk to a friend or family member about your intentions.
  • Take your cell phone with you.
  • Do not carry large sums of money. Consider wire transfers or 3e party escrow services.

For more information, please see the “Security” section of Kijiji