A series of robberies perpetrated through social media and the internet is prompting police to issue a warning to Fresnans not to become a victim of what Chief Jerry Dyer calls “completely preventable” robberies.
Police are also taking countermeasures, which include setting up exchange areas at district police headquarters, where residents can buy or sell items while under video surveillance. Dyer said his department plans to have the exchange center running by Feb. 1.
The police response serves as a reminder that for all of the benefits of social media, it also can be a dangerous place, where criminals lurk in the dark corners of the internet.
Recent crimes have involved victims who were robbed after arriving at meeting spots intending to buy merchandise or to meet women.
▪ On Dec. 12, the victim was lured with an offer to buy a pair of Air Jordan shoes at a meeting with a buyer on the 2500 block of West Fountain Way. Another Air Jordan customer was robbed on Christmas Day near Fruit and McKinley avenues.
▪ On Dec. 19, a man intent on meeting women on the 3200 block of West Ashlan Avenue instead encountered three men, one armed with a gun.
▪ On Dec. 21, the victim intended to buy a vaping device after arranging a meeting on the 2400 block of West Cortland Avenue.
▪ On Jan. 4, a Fresno County man was robbed at his home on the 1900 block of South Temperance Avenue. He thought he was meeting a woman he had encountered on an online dating site.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said that two women arrived at his home, and a short time later an armed man burst through a door and held the man at gunpoint while his home was ransacked.
The man called for help; however, arriving deputies were attacked by two dogs, and a deputy was forced to shoot both dogs.