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Police urging public to be safe with online deals

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A deal made online went sour Monday night after police said a couple was robbed at gunpoint while trying to sell a pair of shoes.

Kalamazoo police said a couple was sitting in their car near Portage Street and East Stockbridge waiting for a person they met on Facebook to arrive to complete a deal. They were trying to sell a pair of NIKE Jordan shoes.

“They agreed to meet at public location so that they could feel safe with one another,” said Capt. Victor Ledbetter with Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. “When they got there, things didn’t work out as planned.”

A teenager allegedly jumped into their car, the police report stated, and held them at gunpoint. He then grabbed the shoes and ran off.

“We see this all the time with people trying to buy and sell things from Craigslist or any other online site such as that,” said Capt. Ledbetter. “What I recommend is [to] find a police station and go to the lot.”

He said as soon as a seller mentions "police station," they'll know immediately if the deal is a sham by the person’s reaction. The parking lot of KDPS is a good option. If not, Capt. Ledbetter suggested meeting in a public place during the day.

“They met at the store and they conducted their business inside the car,” said Capt. Ledbetter. “Had they got into the store or go into a Starbucks, that would be an option."

The suspect was arrested on an armed robbery charge Monday night but no names were released at the time. Nonetheless, Capt. Ledbetter stressed the importance of being cautious when meeting unknown people through social media, especially during the holiday season. Safety, he said, is paramount.

“Do you want to lose your life over a pair of shoes? A jacket? Or some kind of article? Something material?" said Capt. Ledbetter. "Even if you bring someone with you, in this case, there were two people trying to sell it to the suspect so they still got robbed.”

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