OAKLAND -- Police are warning Craigslist users about a recent series of robberies -- some of which have turned violent -- related to ads for cars for sale posted on the popular website.
The ads have lured more than half a dozen victims from all over Northern California offering incredible deals on expensive-model cars, Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi said. E-mails are exchanged and meetings are set up in the early afternoon or evening in different Oakland neighborhoods -- such as the Dimond and Rockridge districts -- to presumably conclude the purchase. Instead, police said, the victim is robbed at gunpoint and, in at least two cases, physically attacked.
Police think the first such incident involving the same group of suspects occurred in April. After a lull, the activity picked up again in December. Some victims, from as far away as Sacramento, Stockton and San Jose, have lost several thousand dollars, police said. The latest incident occurred Sunday night when a man from Lodi responded to such a posting; he was robbed and severely beaten during the meeting in Oakland.
Police say car buyers should always be wary when responding to online ads, and they offered the following tips:
In May, Oakland police arrested two men in Concord after a sting operation to quell similar robberies related to Craigslist ads. Another man dubbed "the Craigslist robber" was arrested in 2009, also for similar incidents in the East Bay.
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.