For five years, David Zoller bought and sold items on the website Craigslist without any problem.
For that reason, the resident of North Dallas is not suspected when he saw the advertisement for sale of a wide screen TV of about 2100 U.S. dollars for just 1000. Zoller contacted the advertiser and agreed to meet him at his home in Garland. The subject told him he had finished with his girlfriend and had to get out of that house in 2200 of West Kingsley Road.
“I said ‘do not be alarmed if you see that the house is empty,'” said Zoller, who visited his home on July 17 along with his colleague Guy Grivas.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary,” recalled Zoller, a real estate agent.
But once inside the house, were greeted by a man armed with a pistol and with his face covered with a red neckerchief that they stole their money and their cell phones.
“When I put the gun in my face philosophy was to not discuss. I stayed quiet and little by little I sat on the floor,” Zoller said. “Everything ended in 20 seconds.”
The police said that Grivas and Zoller are two of many victims that have been raided in recent weeks to respond to ads portal classified ads of Craigslist. The authorities are warning buyers that have a lot of caution when purchasing items from strangers in this popular site.
“Hundreds of transactions are carried out here all the time and most are legitimate,” said Sergeant Kevin Perlich of the Richardson police. “But sometimes it can be a scam or a robbery.”
The chairman and chief executive of Craigslist, Jim Buckmaster sent a communique on Tuesday where he expressed his dismay over the victims of theft and said that violent crimes on this website are “extremely rare”.
“However, we ask users to take sensible precautions both online and on the street,” Buckmaster said. “For example, users must choose a public space to meet, such as a cafeteria.”
Sergeant Perlich suspicion that several individuals behind these crimes and to always use the same mode of operation: they say to buyers who have to sell their stuff fast and they have to pay in cash. These individuals will get to uninhabited houses where they agree to appointments with their victims.
That happened on August 27 passed a young couple who went to a house in the 1500 street Stonecrest Drive in Richardson to see a car on Craigslist Honda Accord announced by 6000 U.S. dollars.
“But it did not carry money,” said Sgt Perlich. “So the woman remained in the house and told him to go to the cashier to get money.”
One of the subjects followed the victim to the bank while the other held the woman hostage until the young man returned with the money. The couple was not injured but was so traumatized by the experience that did not report the crime to the authorities until a friend persuaded them, said Sgt Perlich.
A similar case occurred on Aug. 1 in Garland. The victims arrived at an uninhabited house in 2400 by Patricia Lane to buy a Volkswagen Jetta model 2001 and robbed of 5000 U.S. dollars in cash.
In all three robberies, buyers came to houses located in middle class neighborhoods and not suspected of anything until it was too late.
The police had made no arrests and no suspects.
Hundley writes for
The Dallas Morning News.
échele the eye
Tips when buying on sites like Craigslist
• Meet in public places, such as a bank or a store where there are security cameras and a lot of people.
• Never hold a large amount of money when they see a stranger.
• Never enter a house where someone would yell from the inside that can happen.