AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Police Department is investigating a series of robberies.
According to police, the robberies began when victims responded to sales advertisements for PlayStations and flat screen televisions on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Letgo sites.
The thieves instructed victims to meet at the Northgate Hills Apartments where they were robbed of cash and personal items at gunpoint, before being told to drive away. There have been no reports of serious injuries during the robberies.
One suspect, Lee Bell, has been arrested.
Investigators are working to identify and apprehend the remaining suspects. Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the APD Robbery tip line at 512-974-5092, Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS.
Safety tips for responding to online advertisements:
- Plan to meet at a public location – arrive early so you can see the person coming to meet you (inquire beforehand what they will be wearing/driving)
- Be cautious about meeting at someone’s home. If you choose to meet there, Google Map the address and drive by ahead of time.
- If a seller is using Facebook or Instagram connected to the ad, research it ahead of time. Look up the account to see if it is real. If it appears new/never used, see if you can find another account under that name. Ask the seller questions to verify what you are seeing on the account.
- Bottom line: If it feels dangerous or sketchy, don’t proceed with the meeting.