By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — If you’re a Craigslist user, you may have looked through the items offered in the free column. But what if an item listed as “free” hadn’t been listed by the owner and really wasn’t for giveaway?

That’s what happened to a St. Cloud family who had a snowblower taken because someone put it in the free listings on Craigslist.

Last weekend the Lansing family was blowing out their driveway when their snowblower stopped working.

“It’s a large machine and we could not move it up the driveway,” said Stacie Lansing.

So the Lansings left the 10-year-old Toro in the driveway and arranged for it to be picked up and repaired.

On Wednesday night, the Lansings came home just after 6 p.m. and the snowblower was still in the driveway. About a half-hour later the phone started ringing

“I got a phone call from a neighborhood friend saying ‘Do you have a snowblower that’s free on Craigslist?’ and I said ‘No,'” recalled Stacie.

The Lansings raced outside.

“It was gone already,” said Stacie.

Callers looking for the free snowblower told the Lansings they had seen the ad on Craigslist

“Obviously the person who posted the listing did it maliciously,” Stacie said.

St. Cloud Police are working with Craigslist to try and trace the ad.

“I’m hoping that somebody, because it’s the holiday season, will have good faith and return it,” said Stacie.

Someone answered the Lansings holiday wish late Thursday afternoon. After hearing news reports about the missing snowblower two young men returned it, saying they had no idea the ad was a scam.

“They dropped it off. Wonderful, wonderful people. They said that they certainly could never take something that wasn’t theirs,” said Stacie.

She said she has no idea who would have posted the ad.

St. Cloud Police say if they catch the person who posted it, they could be charged with misdemeanor theft by swindle.

WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy Reports

Comments (15)
  1. Dawn says:

    Now THAT is a good prank. Something tells me this guy has had that thing sitting out for ages and an irritable neighbor decided to do something about it.

  2. Tina says:

    I agree with you Dawn, It is pretty funny prank

  3. Tony says:

    Wow, North of the 694 line there are thousands of free boats, “classic” cars, and assorted gas burning man toys ready to be liberated from front yards and driveways by pranksters. Good idea Dawn.

    1. Dawn says:

      Give it a rest, doesn’t anyone have a sense of humor?

  4. Mikey says:

    My question is – how did they discover that the Craigslist ad was responsible for its disappearance? Is it automatic that police search Craigslist for stolen property the same day it’s reported? What am I missing here?

    1. Ron says:

      A neighbor told him he saw it on craigs list

    2. Joe McAllister says:

      When people started calling them in response to the ad. The fact that whoever placed the ad knew their phone number, tells me it was probably done by an angry neighbor.

  5. mark from says:

    All they need to do is follow the IP address, not much of a story, but very funny prank

  6. Jimmy says:

    I have a FREE snow shovel…

  7. Lyn M says:

    The other thing that happens on Craigslist is in the homes for rent area. People are posting homes that are for sale, and then they say they are for rent. They get people to send in the money and?or Credit reports, then use the reports for their own. Be Careful…

  8. Carrie says:

    I live on a well-traveled street and frequently put items at the curb with a “free” sign. On more than one occasion, someone has posted my free items on Craigslist. I suspect that this St. Cloud snowblower incident was a mistaken free listing by an avid Craigslist user, not a prank.

  9. Tammy says:

    They found out because a neighbor saw the ad and called them. They were also starting to get calls about the listing–which means whoever listed it knew their phone number.

  10. john says:

    what is funny is the st clouod newspaper informs they left the blower end of drive to get picked up to be fixed, not cuz its to heavy, there fault they got it stolen, luckily they were LUCKY to get it back

  11. John Carifidy says:

    We found our stolen car audio system on Craigsfence.

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