Police hunting robbers luring victims on Craigslist

May 23, 2012|By Peter Hermann

A man claiming to be selling watches, coins and other items on Craigslist — the Internet version of classified ads — has lured four people to a residential street in Northwest Baltimore and robbed them at gunpoint, according to city police.

Two attacks occurred last year, in August and November, but two others were reported to police this month. Police said they believe all the hold-ups are linked — they’re occurring in mid-afternoon in the same block on Callaway Avenue, lined with single family homes and green lawns near Ashburton.

Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said there have been other, but more scattered attacks elsewhere in the city and detectives are trying to determine if they too are related. In the November incident, police said shots were fired but no one was struck.

“They’re robbing victims of their items as well as their money, and they’re doing it at gunpoint,” Guglielmi said. “They’re starting to increase.”

The department is urging that people who buy off Craigslist or any other Internet site conduct transactions during the day and in public places, such as a shopping mall. Police in Milwaukee urge people to come to the police station to exchange money for goods.

Guglielmi also said that people should demand real names of the people they’re dealing with and check them against the state’s on-line criminal court database. He recommended paying by bank check payable to a person, ensuring that a real name is given and that no one is carrying cash.

The latest robbery occurred May 3. Police said a person wanting to buy coins from a Craigslist ad agreed to meet in the 3500 block of Callaway Ave., where he was held up by a man armed with either a black handgun for a black revolver. Police said the man stole $2,000.

Police said the robber had also struck the day before, on May 2. Guglielmi said the victim was seeking to make a $2,700 purchase and got in touch with the purported seller by telephone. They agreed to meet about 2:15 p.m. in the 3500 block of Callaway Ave., where the prospective buyer was robbed of the cash.

On Nov. 16, 2011, police said another victim was lured to Callaway Avenue, also on a ruse to sell coins. In this case, police said the gunman fired on the victim, but missed, and nothing was taken.

The first known attack occurred Aug 8, 2011, when police said another victim was lured to Callaway Avenue, this time pretending to have a watch for sale. This time, Guglielmi said, two men greeted the victim, one armed with a gun. Police said it appears that nothing was taken.

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