Craigslist Warning: Philadelphia-Style Robberies Happen in Chicago, Other Cities

Three people have been robbed in the Philadelphia area in recent months by offenders posing as sellers on Craigslist. The problem arises when victims agree to meet people at private locations, such as homes or fictitious businesses. Craigslist warns users not meet at private homes. The risk? Victims show up with money intended to purchase items found on Craigslist and are ambushed by robbers posing as the sellers.

Some security ‘experts’ advise people show up with another person when completing a purchase, but that doesn’t do much good if the person who intends to rob you is armed with a gun.

Other cities also have reports of robberies related to Craigslist. The San Francisco Bay area experienced at least five robberies in June and July 2009.

Public locations aren’t necessarily the safest meeting places either. Two people from Pleasanton and Livermore posted an ad on Craigslist to sell hooded jackets. They were contacted by a prospective buyer and agreed to meet in a Target department store parking garage in Walnut Creek.

At 8:20 p.m. on a Sunday, two teens drove up to the sellers. One of the teens pointed a pistol at the sellers and said, “This is how we’re going to do this.”

The suspects, who appeared to be 16 to 19 years old, took 11 jackets. As they drove awahy, they flashed a gang sign and said “this is West Pittsburg,” a possible reference to their neighborhood.

Other cities that have reported Craigslist-related robberies include Annapolis; Brooklyn, Chicago, Cincinnati; Maywood, Illinois, Monroe, Washington; Tigard, Oregon, Tucson, Arizona, Washington D.C.

The states of Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina has also received reports of Craigslist robberies.

In one of the Chicago crimes, the victim who was lured to the robber on Craigslist, later saw the robber’s MySpace page with a picture wearing his victim’s jacket and posing with the gun that he used in the robbery. The victim called Chicago police, and Chicago police arrested the suspect. An investigation alleged the Craigslist robber was involved in six incidents with 10 victims.