In what appears to be a well-planned and pre-meditated crime the safe in a Carrefour supermarket was emptied by criminals with the help of a Facebook friendship.
At the beginning of February, the manager of the supermarket made an interesting new friend on Facebook, a girl by the name of Katrien Van Loo. The relationship blossomed and pretty soon, the victim was invited over for a cosy dinner for two, presumably to further his acquaintance with his new-found friend. This was on the 15th of February this year. Police are now releasing images in an appeal for witnesses. The Belgian Police report is here.
When the victim arrived at ten-thirty that evening, he discovered that he had in fact been lured to an empty building with the bait set by this fake Facebook profile. He was quickly overpowered by two men who gagged and blindfolded him and forced him to hand over the keys to his own apartment.
While one of the criminals stayed with the victim, the other took the stolen keys and visited the unfortunate supermarket manager’s home. He found the keys to the supermarket and left the building and while doing so was filmed on closed-circuit cameras in the building.
Shortly after midnight, the vault of the store was emptied by a third accomplice, he was also caught on camera. The suspects can be seen in video footage prepared by the Belgian police. Suspect in Belgian Facebook burglary. It is worthy of note that both suspects are left-handed.
If you recognise these suspects, or have any information regarding this crime, the Belgian authorities would love to hear from you. You can call the local toll-free number 0800 / 30.30.0 or use this online form.
If you are a Facebook user, remember, anyone can be anyone online. Never admit unknown people to your circle of trust; you jeopardise your own safety and privacy as well as that of the friends who may be posting on your wall. If you ever decide to meet a stranger, don’t repeat this guy’s mistakes. Do it first in a public place and do not go alone. Trust should be earned, not given.
If you receive a friend request from someone you don’t recognise there are a few things you can check. Do you have any friends in common? If you do not, this should raise a suspicion flag. If you can see any info on the person do you have anything else such as schools or workplaces in common? Does the profile have a photo and if so is it one that you recognise? If you cannot see any info, mutual friends or photo, it’s a definite no-no.
Even if this stuff all checks out and you are still suspicious, begin by simply sending a message to the person, asking how they know you or how they found you on Facebook. If it turns out to be a speculative friend request, my recommendation would be to ignore it and go out for a beer instead.