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Potchefstroom - North West police have urged members of the public to be careful when they respond to online advertisements, especially for livestock and motor vehicle sales in the areas of Makwassie, Leeudoringstad, Boskuil, and Wolmaransstad.  

In an incident that occurred at 3pm on Saturday, May 18 at Boskuil near Makwassie, a potential buyer was allegedly attacked by a group of men who robbed him and his brother of cash and personal belongings when they responded to a cattle for sale advert, Colonel Adéle Myburgh said.

"According to information available at this stage, as part of the suspects’ modus operandi, upon arrival of potential buyers they would be allowed to view the product or [be] taken to another place where presumed livestock or vehicles are kept.

"In some instances, the potential buyer would even be offered to test drive a vehicle which was advertised. The suspects will then rob the unsuspecting potential buyer of his personal belongings, like cellular phones, wallets, and cash," she said.   

The public was warned to be cautious when responding to such advertisements and to avoid becoming victims by taking precautionary measures, such as:

* Don’t meet strangers at your home or in strictly residential areas. Instead, meet in a nearby shopping area, a grocery shop, fast food restaurant parking lot, or at the police station. Make sure the area is busy and filled with lots of people. Daytime is better. If you must meet after dark, make sure the area is well lit and there are lots of people around;

* It’s a good idea to bring a friend, or even two. Let other friends or family know of your plans. Have them check on you at a specific time after the meeting if you don’t call them first;

* Be sure to have your cellphone with you;

* If you are selling/buying something and become suspicious of the buyer/seller - for any reason - don’t let them in your car but leave immediately. For example, don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry I wasted your time. Something has come up and I need to leave right now. Again, I’m sorry. Bye”, and leave. Your safety is more important than being polite;

* Do not carry a large amount of cash with you, and leave immediately if the advertised product is not at the agreed place; and 

* If you are robbed, give the suspects the property they demand, your life is more valuable than your property.

African News Agency (ANA)