Police: Dover cell phone robbery incidents could be related

DOVER — Supposed cell phone purchases arranged through a mobile app led to recent parking lot robberies and suspects sought, Dover Police said Monday.

Three similar incidents were reported within 10 days, the first on Jan. 10, followed by incidents Saturday and Sunday. Dover Police spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said the incidents were possibly connected as investigation continued.

The most recent robbery came at 7:16 p.m. in the Hamlet Shopping Center at 1035 Walker Road. According to police, a man and woman arrived expecting to close a cell phone deal and sell to a person they met on the “LetsGo” app.

Instead, police said, they were robbed at gunpoint when a black man entered their vehicle’s back seat after exiting from a blue or purple Honda CR-V.

The suspect fled with two cell phones, police said, went into a nearby Dollar General and then fled shortly afterward.

The suspect was described as a black male in his mid-20s, tall with a slim build.

On Saturday in the Country Village Apartments parking lot, a 50-year-old man waiting to purchase a cell phone was robbed by a black male suspect who snatched a phone and fled in a grey colored Pontiac G6 sedan from the 400 block of Country Drive. The victim suffered minor abrasions to his arm after falling to the ground as he was robbed.

The first incident on Jan. 10 also took place in the Country Village Apartments parking lot, police said.

Investigation continues and police asked anyone with information to call 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.

While similar incidents have occurred in the past, Cpl. Hoffman said, “It is unusual to have so many in a short period of time. While these types of apps and websites can be very useful and have no issues the majority of the time, we always encourage users to practice safe habits when conducting transactions.”

Safer places, tips

Dover Police reminded the public that sales can be made in the department’s parking lot at 400 S. Queen Street, front entrance, and surrounding areas 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, Cpl. Hoffman said.

“Please keep in mind that 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,” according to Cpl. Hoffman said.

“Dover Police Department is simply allowing a safe haven for sales to take place without interrupting police operations or access to police services.”

City police also offered tips for meeting some place other than the department, including:

• 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.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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