MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police in St. Paul say they stopped a string of Craigslist robberies when an undercover officer posed as a potential seller.
The robberies started this spring. People offering items for sale on Craigslist would meet up with the potential buyer, but the buyer would take off, running away with the goods.
St. Paul officers noticed the trend in May.
Many of the victims were meeting potential buyers of phones, laptops and jewelry near the intersection of Concordia Avenue and Oxford Street in St. Paul.
Sgt. Paul Paulos with St. Paul Police said the robberies went like this: “Show the person what you have, they take the item and take off running.”
Many of the victims did not tell police what happened out of fear.
“They get nervous,” Paulos said. The victims thought the robbers would later find them.
But one man did reach out to police before he met with a potential buyer.
“It was a cautious Craigslist seller who told police he had a funny feeling about the man who was trying to buy the diamond ring he put up for sale on the website,” Paulos said.
So police stepped in and had an undercover officer pose as the man selling the ring.
Sure enough, when he met up with the man, he looked at the ring and took off running. The officer gave chase and eventually caught the guy and two other people who were allegedly involved in the thieving operation.
Police arrested all three men and charged them with simple robbery.
They don’t know if the group was selling what they took outright or if they were pawning the items. What police do know is all three are acquainted and were working together.
Police are not releasing the booking photos of the three men arrested. They are using those pictures to talk with other potential victims to see how many of these Craigslist thefts they are connected to.
Investigators believe there may be more victims out there, if you have been ripped off, give St. Paul police a call at 651-291-1111.