The Crime Prevention Unit of the Sully District Police Station has a warning and important information for residents planning to sell or buy products to or from strangers they’ve only met online.
“Please use caution when [dealing with] people you do not know,” said police MPO Meg Hawkins. “Over the last month, we have taken reports from community members who were selling their iPhone and had it stolen by the potential buyer.
“The meeting was in a public setting, and the buyer asked to look at the phone prior to the transaction taking place,” she continued. “After obtaining the phone, the buyer ran off with it. There are detectives from the Sully District following up on these incidents.”
However, there’s a much safer solution, and residents are urged to take advantage of it. There’s an exchange zone in the parking lot of the police station at 4900 Stonecroft Blvd. in Chantilly. The parking spaces are painted with blue stripes and are directly in front of the building.
Furthermore, this parking lot is monitored by video camera, 24 hours a day. If an issue arises there and requires law-enforcement attention, people may contact police at the numbers listed on the sign there – either 703-691-2131, or 9-1-1 for an emergency. Or people may come directly inside the station to speak with an officer.
Police also offer the following advice:
Only do transactions with local buyers/sellers; if someone isn’t willing to come to the police department to do a transaction, it’s probably not a legitimate transaction. Don’t go into someone else’s house, and don’t allow them into yours. Take your cell phone with you, and don’t go to a transaction alone. If you must go alone, make sure a friend or family member is aware of the transaction details.
Insist on meeting in a public area, such as a safe exchange zone; or at least, use a well-lit, public parking lot that has video surveillance. Whenever possible, complete the transaction during daylight hours. Don’t carry large amounts of cash to the meeting. Be extra cautious when buying or selling valuable items, such as vehicles and jewelry. Trust your instincts – if something sounds like a scam, it probably is. And if something doesn’t feel right, don’t go to the meeting site or make the exchange.