Daytona Beach police are investigating a string of robberies where the crooks allegedly stole from people selling items on popular apps.

  • Daytona Beach police adds safe zones at its headquarters
  • Gives people using online apps for buying, selling, a safe place to meet
  • Police are investigating a sting of robberies connected to these kinds of transactions

Now the police department is trying to give people a safe place to make those transactions.

It all started with the app called Letgo, where people sell all sorts of things and then meet up with those who want to buy them. Haley Hanley said she just wanted to sell her iPhone.

"All of my friends told me about the Lego app. I’ve never ever sold anything online but I’ve always wanted to," Hanley said. "So I had just got a new iPhone 8, I had an iPhone 6. So I was like, 'why not let’s put it on the Letgo app' and I wanted $200."

Hanley was home from college for the Christmas holiday. She said she and the buyer had been messaging about the phone days before the met. She met up with the prospective buyer at a Dollar General in Daytona Beach with her boyfriend.

"'Do you want to buy it?' And he was like yeah. So he pulls out his wallet and Dalton has the phone in his hand. The guy has his wallet and then he just snatches it and ran. We just stood there, Dalton and I, and said did that really just happen? He booked it, grabbed it out of his hand and ran," said Hanley.

Over the past six months, Daytona Beach police said they have been investigating case after case like Hanley’s. So the agency is making its headquarters the new safe zone for people to make those types of transactions.

"It's really difficult to track these folks down because since they don't have good intentions for the seller, more times than not they're giving a fake cell phone number and a fake name," said Lyda Longa, Dayton Beach Police spokesperson.

Police have already ordered new signs to put in the parking lot and inside the lobby. People can make those transactions in those two secure locations.

"I think that is a very smart idea because these apps, you can pick where you meet, and I don’t think that’s safe," said Hanley.

Fortunately, for Hanley the 16-year-old suspect in her case was caught. Spectrum News 13 won’t name the juvenile due to Crime Guidelines, but police said he is now facing a felony.

Hanley said they got lucky because there were cameras and he used his own phone, so police were able to track him down.

"I think having a safe zone makes you feel more comfortabl,e because I wasn’t aware of all of this. But now that I’m aware of how this app works, I recommend not to use it meeting somewhere other than a safe zone," said Hanley.

Most police departments around Central Florida offer this service to help people from getting hurt or their items stolen.

Police said if anyone refuses to meet you at the safe zone at the police department then they likely don’t have good intentions.