1st arrest made in alleged cell phone sales scam

DOVER — One arrest was made and other suspects sought as investigation into supposed cell phone purchase deals turned robberies continued, Dover Police said.

Dover resident Garrett Hawkins, 18, was charged with first- and second-degree robbery after being located in the city and arrested without incident Monday night, spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said Tuesday. Dover Police and the U.S. Marshals First State Fugitive Task Force made the apprehension.

The case centered on alleged robberies after persons arrived to purchase the phones through the “LetGo” secondhand sales app, authorities said.

Police said the defendant was charged after incidents in the Country Village Apartments complex at 480 Country Drive on Jan. 10 and Jan. 19. A 50-year-old man suffered minor abrasions to the arm in the second incident, police said.

The agreed upon sales price for Jan. 10 was $520, according to a probable cause affidavit. court documents. Mr. Hawkins allegedly arrived at an apartment following a phone call, documents said, and three unknown black males wearing scarves covering their faces then approached, two of them with knives with blades five to six inches long.

A wallet, cash and gift cards were stolen, police said.

Garrett Hawkins

Other charges against Mr. Hawkins included possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony, second-degree conspiracy and terroristic threatening.

Mr. Hawkins was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown in default of $47,500 cash bond.

An alleged incident in the Hamlet Shopping Center on Jan. 20 remains under investigation, police said.

Public information, tips

After the series of incidents last week, police offered the following information and tips:

• The department at 400 S. Queen Street allows the use of the parking lot, front entrance, and surrounding areas of the police department for online sales meets.

• Buyers and sellers may also utilize the porch area of the front entrance to the police department under the overhang, but must not hinder the anyone’s ability to enter or exit the department.

• The department nor any of its employees will act as a witness to a sale or be involved in any agreements or civil matters involving sales once completed. The Dover Police Department is simply allowing a safe haven for sales to take place without interrupting police operations or access to police services.

• Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe, shopping center parking lot, etc.

• Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.

• Only meet during daylight hours or in well-lit and heavily populated areas.

• Be especially careful buying/selling high value items.

• Consider making high-value exchanges at your local police station.

• Tell a friend or family member where you’re going or when you’re having a buyer/seller in your home.

• Take your cell phone along if you have one.

• Consider having a friend accompany you.

• Trust your instincts.

Police asked anyone with information to contact Dover PD at 736-7130. Callers may remain anonymous. Tips can also be submitted to law enforcement through tip lines maintained by Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or online at www.tipsubmit.com.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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