Craigslist robbers target Elgin cell-sellers - FOX 35 News Orlando

Craigslist robbers target Elgin cell-sellers

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ELGIN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Elgin police are warning about robbers taking smartphones from people selling the devices through Craigslist, after arranging to meet in the northwest suburb.

At least three times in recent weeks, a person from some Chicago suburb has reported to Elgin police that he advertised a cellphone for sale on the online classified-ads site. Someone called up the seller's phone number after seeing the ad. The caller and the seller negotiated a price to buy the phone, then arranged to meet each other in person at a "neutral site" outdoors in Elgin.

At least the first two times this happened, that site was the same one — the parking lot of a liquor store along North McLean Boulevard.

In the third case, on June 22, the caller promised to give a 23-year-old Bensenville man $400 for his smartphone if he would meet the caller in the skateboard park at Kimball Street and North Crystal Avenue.

But in each case, when the seller showed up with his phone, the purported buyer showed up with a confederate. They forcibly snatched the phone away, knocked the seller down and ran away with the phone without paying for it.

More typical muggings, in places like Chicago, also now often target smartphones. But those robbers get only the phone itself. The victims falling prey to the Craigslist scheme usually have brought along the phone's box, charging cords, earphones and other accessories, all of which the robber takes.

Elgin Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said the robbery tactic is not just an Elgin phenomenon — other towns have reported similar crimes throughout the region, and perhaps across the country.

He said Elgin detectives are analyzing what they can do to try to catch the robbers doing this. He said it is uncertain whether the same two men are responsible for all the Elgin cases or whether more than one band of robbers is playing the trick.

Meanwhile, he said, "People need to think these things through. If you are selling a $400 smartphone, should you agree to meet someone behind a liquor store? You should pick a more public place to do these things."

"Maybe the lobby of the police station," Theriault suggested.

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