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Be Smart When Responding to Craigslist Ads in Johnstown

JohnstownPolice Department
Office of Media and Communications

Johnstown Police advise buyers to beware when meeting up with people selling items on Craigslist. Johnstown PD has seen a recent increase in robberies of people who thought they were meeting someone selling something, but instead used the opportunity to commit a crime.

Most recently, on Wednesday, December 29, 2012 at 9:45 p.m., a man from Johnstown met who he thought were people selling an iPhone advertised on Craigslist, but they turned out to be robbers. The victim met the two suspects in a McDonalds parking lot near N. 4th St. and W. Main Avenue. He allowed them into

his car, where they robbed him at gunpoint of the cash he brought to buy the phone.

The victim deribed the first suspect as a black male with a dark complexion, 15-20 years old, 5’05” and 120 pounds. He was armed with a dark handgun. The second suspect was a black male with a light complexion, 15-17 years old, 6’00” and 140 pounds. Each was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark colored pants.

On January 9, a man was robbed when he went to the 3700 block of N. 17th St. to buy a car after responding to a Craigslist ad.

The victim reported the crime and several hours later, a Johnstown Police Detective investigating the robbery arranged to see the car advertised on Craigslist. Posing as a potential buyer and with additional officers nearby, the detective met the suspects in the same area where they robbed the original victim. Police arrested all of the suspects.

“If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is a set-up," said inspector Darryl Winston of the Johnstown Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau. “Don’t allow strangers into your home or car and don’t carry large amounts of cash.” Winston also advised people to never leave a well-lit public space with a seller/buyer. Rather, conduct the transaction in public.

While many items posted in classified ads such as Craigslist are placed for legitimate reasons, the Johnstown Police Department reminds the community to be cautious when meeting people through ads. Whether a seller or buyer, insist that the meeting be in a public place, in a familiar area and avoid meeting anyone alone.

If the meet location is in a secluded area, in front of a vacant home or if something does not seem right, reschedule. If the seller/buyer is reluctant to do so, it may not a legitimate transaction. Johnstown Police also urge anyone who feels they witnessed suspicious activity of this nature, to notify the Johnstown Police Department so Johnstown PD may investigate and may prevent a crime from happening.

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