Oakland police warn about Craigslist car robberies

December 28, 2010 6:37:15 PM PST
Oakland police are warning potential car buyers to watch out for a dangerous scam, using Craigslist to lure victims. Police say potential buyers have been robbed and sometimes beaten.

In each case it starts out the same ? a car for sale on Craigslist for so cheap it is practically a steal.

"The victims are then lured to east and north Oakland neighborhoods under the guise that they're going to purchase a vehicle," Oakland Police Department spokesperson Ofc. Holly Joshi said.

The sale usually takes place in a secluded, residential neighborhood. The would-be car buyers show up with cash in hand and then they are robbed at gunpoint.

It has happened more than half a dozen times since April. In the most recent attack on Sunday, a man from Lodi was robbed and severely beaten.

"The concerning thing is that the violence is escalating, the suspects are getting more bold and brazen and over the last couple weeks we have seen several victims assaulted over the course of the robbery," Joshi said.

This is not the first time Oakland has had a problem with Craigslist robberies. Last year, police arrested a man known as the "Craigslist robber" for the exact same thing. Investigators say Damien Bell of Oakland also carried out his Craigslist robberies in other East Bay cities.

Oakland police hope this time a $10,000 reward will lead to the suspects.

Police offered online car buyers the following tips:

  • Do not agree to meet in secluded or residential areas.
  • Do not carry a large amount of cash.
  • If someone or something looks suspicious, leave, especially if you arrive at the location and the advertised vehicle is not visible.
  • If you are robbed, give the suspects the property they demand -- your life is more valuable than your property.

"If people are shopping for a Craigslist vehicle and the vehicle is advertized for a very low price well below the blue book value your red flags should go up," Joshi said.

Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering as much as $10,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the suspects in this recent string of robberies. Call Oakland police Officer Eric Milina at 510-238-3426, or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572 or 510-777-3211.


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