Police: Craigslist robberies on the rise

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Officials say there are lots of successful Craigslist transactions.  But lately, police have responded to dangerous situations where buyers or sellers have been robbed at gunpoint.

They say these crimes could have been prevented.  In all of the recent cases there are two common mistakes people are making.  Something police say you need to take note of.

“There have been about nine of these in the past five months. They seem to center around situations where somehow a transaction is originally scheduled some place and the perpetrator at the last minute or initially will change the place to somewhere that’s unsafe,” Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards explained.

It’s what police are calling robbery by appointment.  Meeting at someone’s home to make a Craigslist sale.  Something Fort Wayne Police Department Captain Tom Bandor says you should avoid at all costs.

“An excellent tip would be the police department itself. In the lobby area not only is that very public but obviously there are going to be police personnel present,” FWPD Capt. Tom Bandor said.

Items causing the most problems:  XBOX game consoles and smartphones.  As you’re preparing to make the sale, Bandor says know the name and number of the person you’re buying or selling to.

“And if you can keep it to daylight hours that is going to be better. Always bring a friend or someone who can be with you who can be present.”

Having a witness is vital.  Especially if the worst happens and you find yourself a victim.  Making note of specific details of the other person allows the prosecutor to build the best case possible.

“One of the things that you have to prove in a crime is identity. I have to prove that this specific person commited that crime. A witness will remember details that is specific to the way that the person looks or the license plate of the car, that then ties it back to that specific person,” Richards said.

Again, if the other person won’t meet you in a public place or suddenly changes the location to an unsafe place – don’t go.  No item or amount of cash is worth risking your life.

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