Mobile phones snatched, as online sellers targeted

People selling mobile phones online are being targeted by thieves.

At least six incidents have been reported in Wyndham this year of people being lured to surburban streets on the pretense of selling their phone, only to have it snatched from them.

“It is believed the offenders are communicating with victims online and arranging to meet them at night, in predominantly quiet suburban areas before snatching the phone out of their hands and fleeing,” a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

She said incidents reported in January and February occurred in Westonbury Drive, Truganina; Heaths Road, Hoppers Crossing and Winona Circuit, Tarneit.

There have been another three incidents this month, the first on March 3, about 8.45pm, on Saint Martins Boulevard, Truganina.

A similar theft occurred on March 11 about 9.10pm in Pindaroi Court, Tarneit and a third on March 20 about 8.15pm in Elkhorn Way, Point Cook.

The victims, five men and one woman, range in age from 22 to 45 years.

The offenders have been described as males in their mid-to-late teens. No arrests have been made and police could not say whether the incidents were linked.

Senior Sergeant Aaron Riches said one of the Wyndham victims had been threatened with violence but had made the “sensible choice” to hand over the phone and walk away.

“We are targeting those who commit these crimes,” Senior Sergeant Riches said.

“They think it’s OK to target vulnerable people and that’s pretty low.”

He said anyone wanting to sell their phones online should meet with prospective buyers at a time and place where there are plenty of other people around, such as a restaurant. He also suggested they be accompanied by a friend or family member.

He cautioned people to be wary of online buyer’s accounts with titles such as “Gumtree User” instead of a persons’ name, and accounts which had no mobile phone numbers attached to the buyer.

Anyone with information on any of the incidents is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.