AKRON, Ohio — Authorities are asking residents to use caution when meeting with someone they met online to buy or sell merchandise following a series of robberies in Akron.
According to Akron police, eight robberies have occurred since Dec. 30. Each of the incidents involves a victim meeting with an unknown person they met through social media.
When the victim arrives to meet with the buyer or seller, the robber grabs the merchandise or cash and runs off. During the most recent incident, the robber acted like he had a gun but didn't brandish a weapon, authorities said.
Mario Alderman, 32, of Stow, used the app Letgo to post pictures of his cell phone and a watch.
He received a response from a man who asked Alderman to meet him on the morning of January 3 on Donald Avenue.
The two talked briefly about the phone inside Alderman's car, but then the stranger suddenly punched Alderman in the face and ran out of the car with the phone and watch.
"It was just enough to stun me so I couldn't reach for my phone probably," Alderman told News 5.
The majority of robberies have happened on Donald, Virginia, Barbara and Sylvan avenues near Wilbeth Arlington Park.
Police have stepped up patrols in the neighborhood, but have not named suspects or made any arrests.
Alderman said he's concerned someone will get seriously hurt if the crooks aren't captured.
"I hope they catch the guys or the guy doing it because no one needs to get hurt over a stupid cell phone."
Authorities said the robberies have been committed by what appears to be a group of black males in their teens and early twenties.
Police said people who use social media to buy or sell items should communicate only through the social media site, never meet at the buyer or seller's house or your own house and take a family member or friend with you to complete a transaction.
Akron police welcome the public to conduct such exchanges in front of the police station.