Police: Suspects used OfferUp app to target teen robbery victims

FOX 5's Alexandra Limon reports.

- Prince George’s County police say two teenagers were robbed after attempting to use the OfferUp app to purchase goods.

However, a sting operation has led to the arrest of two suspects and police are now warning these types of robberies are on the rise.

The OfferUp app is basically a classifieds site similar to Craigslist where people can buy and sell items.

The investigation started after police got a report that the two teenage victims were robbed at gunpoint when they arranged to meet on Feb. 6 to buy a dirt bike on Abel Avenue in Capitol Heights.

Undercover officers decided to set up a sting operation pretending to be customers also buying a dirt bike and set up a meeting at the same location.

Investigators said they arrested 22-year-old Tyrone Strickland Jr. and 36-year-old Andre Speller last Tuesday and they were armed with a handgun and a high capacity magazine.

“Don't only rely on text message, instant message, applications such as that – try to speak to them in person.” said Prince George’s County Police Officer Tyler Hunter. “Do it in a public place such as a shopping center, a police station, a fire department. Somewhere there are people around, which is a way to have a less chance of being victimized. Also, the biggest thing is to trust your gut if you feel something that something isn’t right.”

Prince George’s County police said they have been investigating seven similar cases of criminals using the app to lure victims in recent months.

Police have issued some safety tips for anyone using any type of classified ad:

- Never go alone to the transaction location. Always try to bring a second person with you.

- It's best to talk to potential seller or buyer on the phone. Do not communicate only through an app or online.

- Only meet a potential buyer or seller in a public place - like a shopping center.

- Trust your instincts. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

- Unless the item is too large to bring out of your home, never invite a buyer to your home.

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