Victoria Police are warning online shoppers to stay wary after a man attempting to purchase a used video game console was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday night.
Just after 10 p.m., officers responded to the 100-block of South Turner Street in James Bay for a report of an armed robbery in progress, according to VicPD.
The victim told officers that they had responded to a Used Victoria ad selling a used PlayStation 5 (PS5) and later met with the seller, who he had spoken with for “several minutes,” police say.
“Without warning, the ‘seller’ produced a handgun, pointed it at the victim, and demanded the money the victim had brought for the purchase,” VicPD said in a news release Thursday.
“The victim handed over the money and the suspect fled the area on foot. The victim got themselves to a safe place nearby and called 911.”
The victim was physically unhurt but visibly shaken by the incident, according to police, who say officers searched the area extensively for the suspect but could not locate him.
While the search was underway, a second person approached officers saying they too had arranged to meet someone selling a used PS5 at the same location, leading police to believe the two incidents may be related.
“Officers are advising anyone arranging to meet for a similar circumstance to use caution and take steps…to protect yourself,” VicPD said in the release.
Police say officers are working to identify and locate the suspect, a Caucasian man standing around six feet tall with a skinny build.
During the robbery, the suspect reportedly wore dirty white Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, dark blue camouflage pants, a black jacket with no hood, a dark toque and a dark-coloured medical mask.
The robbery is prompting police to share safety tips for people engaging in online-facilitated transactions, including meeting sellers and buyers in brightly lit, public spaces like a shopping mall, library or municipal building.
Other tips include conducting the financial transaction by e-transfer instead of carrying cash; bringing a friend or family member with you; and, if things go wrong, finding a safe place and calling 911.
Anyone with information about the incident, including surveillance footage from the area, is asked to call VicPD’s report desk at 250-995-7654 extension 1. To make an anonymous report, tipsters can reach Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.