A man who thought he buying a gold chain from a contact on Facebook Marketplace was instead robbed at gunpoint by three men Friday morning on St. Croix, and then shot at as they made their getaway and he pursued them, according to the V.I. Police Department.
The robbery occurred around 10 a.m. at the Rendholt Jackson Sports Complex in Estate Whim, said police, who met with the victim at a nearby gas station.
He said he went to the sports complex to meet a man who was selling a gold chain through Facebook Marketplace, police reported. When the buyer and the seller met, the seller brandished a firearm, and he and two other males robbed the buyer of his mobile phone and cash.
The suspects fled the area in a tan vehicle, while firing shots at the victim, police said. The victim followed the suspects into Williams Delight, but then turned around, went to the gas station, and borrowed someone’s phone to call 911. The victim was unhurt, but his vehicle sustained gunshot damage, according to the police report.
Detectives are urging anyone who saw what happened to call 911, the Crime TipLine at 340-778-4950, or Crime Stoppers USVI at 1-800-222-TIPS.
The VIPD also encourages local online marketplace shoppers to conduct their sales in the department’s parking lots.
Authorities across the nation have repeatedly warned of scams and robberies that can take place if an exchange is conducted at a home or private residence. The VIPD has now seen two incidents where persons in good faith met with potential sellers of items advertised online, only to be robbed when meeting with the seller of the items, the department said in a press release.
“Not only is (the police department) a public place, if someone has bad intentions, they are more than likely not going to come to the police department to take advantage of you in any way,” said acting Police Commissioner Mario Brooks.
The VIPD, as with other police and sheriff departments nationwide, is offering the parking lots for safe exchanges during daylight hours.