Sumter Police Department officials are urging residents to be cautious when arranging to buy or sell items in person after officers responded to three armed robberies that appear to be linked to exchanges on Facebook Marketplace.
Each of the reported incidents - arranged by a person posing as a buyer or seller on the social media platform similar to Craigslist - took place during the day. No one was injured.
The most recent incident happened after 4 p.m. on Wednesday near Memorial Stadium when a person intending to sell video game equipment was robbed at gunpoint, according to a news release from the police department.
The first incident happened after 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2 at Dillon Park.
The victim, who intended to sell gaming equipment and a long gun, was approached by two men who held him at gunpoint. The men took the items from the victim and told him to drive away from the area.
After 5 p.m. that same day, two men held another man at gunpoint in a parking lot on South Pike East. The men, again, took video game equipment from the victim before leaving the scene in a white SUV.
The release describes the two suspects as black males in their 20s and states one of them is about 6 feet tall. An estimated height was not provided for the second suspect other than that he is thought to be shorter than the first.
Anyone with information about the three armed robberies is asked to call Sumter Police Department at (803) 436-2700. Information can be given anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
The police department encourages people who wish to use internet exchange websites to conduct meetings at locations provided by law enforcement or arrange to meet in highly visible areas with traffic.
As a community service, Sumter Police Department, 107 E. Hampton Ave., provides an exchange site called "SPD EZone" in the department's parking lot at the corner of Hampton Avenue and Harvin Street.
Sumter residents are also encouraged to used Sumter County Sheriff's Office parking lot, 1281 N. Main St. (U.S. 15 North), as a designated safety zone.