HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — It is one of the fastest growing crime trends in Hartford: robberies, assaults, even homicide, all from deals gone bad through Craigslist. Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley says Hartford is now officially inviting the public to conduct Craigslist transactions in their parking lot.
“Our parking lot is well lit, it’s under surveillance 24/7, it is only 10 or 20 yards from a front desk that is staffed 24/7 by a police officer,” said Foley.
Two men are awaiting trial for allegedly luring a Middletown man to Hartford and robbing him at gunpoint. Police say Rashad Moon and Marvin Mathis shot and killed Felix Dejesus for two computer tablets after meeting late at night on a side street.
Because Craigslist crimes have become such a problem, other towns are following Hartford’s lead. Manchester police say they arrested two men Wednesday for snatching a laptop after they answered an ad on Craigslist posing as buyers. The suspects and seller met in public inside a McDonald’s. Captain Chris Davis says these meetings can go wrong in a hurry, even when done in a public place.
“These types of transitions, you don’t know who you are dealing with, you don’t know what their motives are,” said Capt. Davis. “They are inherently dangerous.”
Police say one suspect grabbed the laptop and came running out the door of the McDonald’s. The victim chased him, yelling “I want my laptop back.” That’s when there was a second man who allegedly tripped the victim, pinned him to the ground, and put him in a chokehold so they could get away. Captain Davis says the victim was injured.
“He separated his shoulder and it was a pretty forceful fall when he got tripped chasing after he suspect,” said Capt. Davis. “He also suffered some facial lacerations as well.”
Deputy Chief Foley says if a buyer or seller won’t meet in the police department parking lot, it should raise a red flag. Also, don’t be tricked into leaving the police parking lot.
“At the last second they try to bait you away with some type of hardship or excuse to get you away form the police department,” said Foley. “If you plan on meeting at the PD, stick to it and don’t change.”
Foley says they got the idea from other police departments around the country. Manchester police are encouraging you to meet someone from Craigslist in their parking lot as well.