Richmond police have arrested four suspects in a series of alleged internet “meet-up” robberies — and in response have created a Community Exchange Zone to protect residents.
In May, Richmond officers responded to calls of online robberies where buyers and sellers were lured into meeting with the suspects. Police learned that the most common items taken in the robberies were “Yeezy” shoes, Apple iPhones and MacBooks, and that the suspects apparently found the buyers and sellers on internet forums and Facebook. After agreeing on a price and meeting place, the suspects (acting as buyers or sellers) allegedly threatened the victims with a gun and robbed them.
Police investigators identified nine victims in Richmond from December 2016 to June 2017. Police also identified the possible suspects — and found four other related robberies that detectives with the Sheriff’s Office and Pinole Police Department were investigating in their jurisdictions.
Detectives worked together to identify the main suspect as 21-year-old Brejon Bandy of San Pablo and three adult accomplices from Richmond and Hercules. The four suspects have been arrested and charged with numerous counts of robbery with a firearm. Bandy is being held on a $1.2 million bail.
To help combat this type of internet/meet-up crime, Richmond police have set aside two parking stalls within the RPD parking lot, at 1701 Regatta Blvd., for “private party transactions and custody exchanges.” The Community Exchange Zone has been designated to help residents feel safe to conduct private party transactions, although the RDP reminds the public that the exchange of drugs, alcohol, firearms or any illegal items is not permitted. The yellow painted parking stalls and signs are visible to officers through the front doors of the department and include lighting and surveillance cameras.
Police hope that Richmond residents use the Community Exchange Zone to facilitate online/internet meetings, custody exchanges or any other meetings with strangers.