Surfing the web for victims

A Bethesda man who lost two brand new iPad2 devices to a set-up said he should have been more careful.

The man, who asked that his name not be used, said he posted an ad for the two iPads Saturday. He said he was pleased when a purported buyer contacted him to set up a transaction.

Saturday night the buyer showed up at the seller's home, looking like a college student, the seller said. The suspect arrived at the victim’s home at approximately 7:45 p.m., according to Montgomery County police.

The seller allowed the suspect into the front foyer of his home. As the suspect was examining one iPad, he then grabbed the other iPad from the man’s grasp and ran off.

A neighbor says her young niece was just steps away as the thief sprinted into the woods to get away.

“I really don't like it, I don't trust it very much,” the neighbor said about Craigslist. She would only give her first name, Maria. “I think it’s very unsafe.”

Police say the website allows thieves to surf for victims. A Montgomery County police spokesman tells ABC7 to complete sales in a public area and never agree to meet a buyer alone. Police recommend to demand an ID before presenting money or merchandise.

Police advise anyone who is selling property to follow these guidelines:

• If possible, do not go alone and meet in a public, well-traveled, and well-lit location.
• Let a family member or friend know your destination and the time of your appointment.
• Never allow anyone into your home, if at all possible.
• If you have an immoveable item to sell, have a friend and/or family member with you when the buyer arrives at your home.
• Prior to meeting a buyer, obtain a valid phone number and name from the buyer.
• When meeting the subject, ask for a valid government photo/identification card.
• If at all possible, obtain a license plate number from the buyer’s vehicle.

“These people will take every opportunity to take what belongs to you and they want,” Officer Howard Hersh said.

The iPad victim says he will take precautions in the future. “I will think twice before I sell anything expensive there,” he said. “Before any transaction I think I should have my friend or another person with me.”

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