Englewood detectives charged a local man with robbing a Hackensack couple who came to town to sell an iPhone through the “Letgo” buy/sell app.
Sincere Degroat, 19, was carrying an iPhone stolen during one of the robberies when Detective Sgt. Chris Kedersha and Detective Chris Quirk nabbed him in Mackay.
The iPhone was stolen from a Hackensack couple on Jan. 5 after the woman, 21, listed it for sale on “Letgo” and agreed to a meeting in Englewood, Detective Capt. Timothy Torell said Friday.
DeGroat snatched the phone from her, “indicated he had a gun and said he would shoot them both,” Torell said.
The couple fled and flagged down a passing uniformed police unit, he said.
Detectives identified DeGroat, who was charged with armed robbery, making terroristic threats and possession of drug paraphernalia.
DeGroat, who has a criminal history, remained held Friday in the Bergen County Jail, 11 days after his arrest.
Police are still investigating a pair of other robberies involving the popular app from weeks earlier.
In one, a 21-year-old Paramus woman went to the McDonalds on West Palisade Avenue, where the prospective buyer paid in counterfeit money before fleeing, Torell said.
Several days later, a 27-year-old Fort Lee man had an iPhone snatched from his hand after he met what was supposed to be a buyer at the Starbucks on East Palisade Avenue, he said.
Crimes involving buy/sell apps and social media programs are increasing dramatically.
Last week, a man told police in Rutherford he was mugged while trying to sell a cellphone through the "Letgo" app.
For that reason, Englewood police are setting up an “Internet Safe Exchange Zone” at the city's Public Safety Complex.
The company “OfferUp” works with law enforcement in identifying and establishing safe exchange zones.
GO TO: https://safetradespots.com/
Meanwhile, Torell urged people to take certain precautions when meeting people they don’t know, especially in unfamiliar locations.
- Always meet during daylight hours.
- Always bring your own cell phone along in case of an emergency. People should know that most deactivated cell phones without a service connection will allow a 9-1-1 call to be made on it.
- Always notify friends or family of your intentions to meet with someone.
- Always bring someone with you.
- Never invite strangers to your home or agree to meet at a stranger’s home.
Better yet: Insist on meeting at or outside a police station. A criminal likely won't agree.
If you do become a victim of a crime during a meeting, try and get a good description of the suspect’s appearance BUT NEVER pursue them.
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