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EPPD urges Craigslist users to remember safety

By Crystal Price
EL PASO, Texas -- Millions of Americans turn to Craigslist, a classified advertisements website to sell, buy or trade items.

But according to El Paso Police, the number of confrontations and robberies are on the rise as the website becomes more popular.

Most recently, an El Paso man was attacked by four males in Northeast El Paso when he attempted to respond to a Craigslist ad.

Police said the victim offered for sale a cellphone through Craigslist.

Authorities said one of the males struck the victim's head with what would later be determined to be a crow bar. The males then stole the phone and ran to a truck that was waiting in the area.

All four subjects were placed under arrest and charged with aggravated robbery for their participation in this crime.

Another man from West El Paso, who wishes to remain anonymous, said a few Craigslist exchanges have gotten him in some pretty dangerous situations.

"They sounded legit and when I went up there, they were kids," the man said.

 One time he had met two people in the parking lot of a local business where he attempted to buy two phones, but the exchange did not go as planned.

"So I told them to hold the phones while I counted the money in their hands, and as soon as I gave them the last bill, they just both took off," the man said.

Another time he said he was nearly attacked in the Sprouts parking lot.

"You would think a public parking lot's very safe, but then you just don't know," the man said. "Some people are just willing to do anything to get money."

According to El Paso Police, parking lots are the places you should avoid when making a Craigslist trade or sell.

"If there's going to be an exchange of money you can always do your transaction at a bank, or in the lobby of a bank, that way the money comes out of the bank," Petry said.

But some Craigslist shoppers KFOX 14 talked to said not all exchanges could be made at a bank because the items are large and have to be picked up.

A couple confronted a woman from east El Paso woman when she attempted to buy furniture from them in a secluded wooded area.

"The male and the female both jumped out and rushed toward me," the woman said.

She said she was able to use her self-defense skills with Samoan knives to get away.

"They picked the wrong target that night," said the woman.

Petry said if someone ever finds themselves in a confrontation, gather as much information as possible and write down the Craigslist posting number before it disappears.

"If it doesn't feel right, in your gut, it's probably not right," Petry said.

Authorities add that Craigslist buyers should always bring a buddy and never go on an exchange alone.

"Should an incident arise, it's another set of eyes that assists police with being a good witness, providing accurate detailed information," Petry said.

For more information on Craigslist safety, go to Craigslists' website at https://www.craigslist.org/about/safety.