On 11/26/18 at 7:30 PM an armed robbery occurred in Modesto involving a victim attempting to sell his PlayStation 4 gaming console via OfferUp, an online marketplace where individuals can buy or sell items locally. The victim in this case agreed to meet with the 16-year-old buyer, in the evening at the corner of Sutter Avenue and Savonna Avenue. As the victim arrived in the area he met with the 16-year-old male suspect and began showing him his PlayStation 4 console. A 17-year-old male and 19-year-old male, identified as Tyrese Parker, were hiding in the shadows behind a tree, close to where the victim parked. Parker and the 17-year-old male were armed with airsoft pistols that appeared to be real firearms. Both Parker and the 17-year-old suspect ran up on the victim and pointed the airsoft pistols at the victim, robbing him of the PlayStation 4. All three suspects ran back to the 17-year-old male’s home, which was within close proximity to where the robbery occurred.
After a thorough investigation by the Modesto Police Department’s newly formed Major Crimes Unit, Parker was booked into the Stanislaus County jail and the 16 and 17-year-old males were booked into the Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall. OfferUp and other similar mobile apps such as Letgo are online marketplaces that allow users to buy and sell personal property locally.
Further, on 12-09-2018 there were three armed robberies in Modesto which were all arranged using the LetGo and OfferUp mobile apps. In all three robberies, the suspects were targeting Apple iPhones being sold by the victims. Based on the way the crimes were committed, suspect descriptions, and proximity to one another, all three cases were believed to be linked together. As the investigation progressed, Major Crimes detectives developed information on who the two suspects were and that they were 16 years of age. These suspects were arrested by the Major Crimes Unit for armed robbery and booked into the Stanislaus County Juvenile Hall.
Major Crimes detectives are still investigating additional robberies involving several different suspects who used the OfferUp and Letgo mobile apps to commit robberies in Modesto. These additional cases involve a violent robbery of a mother and her son that occurred on Mt. Vernon in October of 2018 and the recent robbery of a victim that was pepper sprayed by a suspect inside a restaurant in Southeast Modesto. Both of these victims were either selling or purchasing an Iphone from or by the suspects.
The Modesto Police Department strongly urges potential sellers or buyers using OfferUp, Letgo, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Ebay to use common sense in determining a location to buy or sell their property. Detectives suggest picking a well-lit, public place that offers video surveillance that could capture the transaction. Although not every robbery can be prevented, even in a well-lit, public place, a public setting is usually a safe location and will help reduce the likelihood of being a victim while using the above online marketplace apps. Sellers and buyers should be suspicious of individuals wanting to meet on a dark residential street or from a buyer or seller who changes the meet location often or suddenly. Detectives recommend using the chat functions provided by these apps to communicate with buyers and sellers and to not give out your personal phone number to chat with them. Of the recent robberies, the suspects either posed as a buyer or seller of Iphones or other electronic devices.
Major Crimes Detectives also caution would-be robbers in choosing this type of method in committing their crimes. Detectives will be relentless in pursuing suspects committing these types of crimes to bring them to justice.
If you have any information regarding these cases, please call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also visit the crime Stopper’s website at www.stancrimetips.org or download the P3 app to provide tips.
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