Craigslist Crimes: The Dangers of Dealing with Strangers

Would you meet someone in a remote location to buy a car?

Craigslist is a popular social media site people use to buy things from strangers.

But sometimes, those "deals" can turn dangerous.

Craigslist crimes have led newscasts in recent years.

A murder just last week in Saint Louis and a fatal shooting during a Craigslist deal right here in Chattanooga are just two of dozens of crimes committed during Craigslist transactions.

The dangers involved in these encounters between strangers have urged businesses and law enforcement to provide services and locations to make these encounters safer.

69-year-old Bud Runion of Marietta, Georgia placed a Craigslist ad looking for a vintage 1966 Mustang.

"He was excited about the car," said his daughter Stephanie Bishop. "He had one when he got back from Vietnam."

He drove 200 miles with his wife to Mcrae, Ga. to check out a classic Mustang from a man who said he had one for sale.

A few days later and their bodies were found shot in the head on his property.

The couple is remembered at their funeral.

"This sanctuary is truly full because everybody has been touched by the lives of Bud and June Runion," said a family friend giving a eulogy.y

"It’s very emotional. It’s hard. I’m glad everyone is very strong in their faith but in the back of my mind, it’s not fair what happened."

On Craigslist, you can find good deals and side jobs, but you can also be robbed, assaulted, and murdered.

In Chattanooga, a man was charged with attempted first degree murder after robbing and shooting a man he met on Craigslist to purchase Microsoft tablets.

"Don’t go anywhere by yourself," says Sergeant Wayne Jefferson with the Chattanooga Police Department. "I don’t believe in going to meet someone at their house because you’ve never met these people in your life."

A simple Google search of "craigslist news" pulls up dozens of craigslist crimes.

In 2009, medical student Phillip Markhoff was indicted in the murder of a woman he contacted on Craigslist.

The Craigslist crime wave continues yet transactions show no sign of slowing.

So businesses have begun offering services to give peace of mind to these exchanges.

Bellhops is a moving service but now they offer to go WITH you on your Craigslist transaction. O

Or even go in your place.

"We just provide strength in numbers," said Mary Scott Sanders with Bellhhops. "We provide Bellhops as a third party for both the buyer and seller to feel more comfortable. Bellhops are college students and background checked and that population is just perceived to be more trustworthy."

And what looks like a dirty parking lot can also be the cleanest place to do business.

Officials say a parking lot like the one at the police services center on Amnicola Highway is the perfect place to conduct a Craigslist transaction.

"And even if necessary you can come right out here in front of the Chattanooga Police Department," said Jefferson.

In Atlanta this April, a string of Craigslist robberies and in May, another Craigslist murder in Saint Louis has officials urging the public to beware and be vigilant. Take advantage of friends and of services to accompany you.

But most importantly, meet in a public place.

"Find an open area that’s in the public’" said Jefferson. "It can be a parking lot. It can be a store. It can be anywhere that a lot of people are already at. Not a private location. And then do this during the day. Don’t make any transactions at night."

While Craigslist may provide anxiety for some potential buyers and sellers, counteractive measure and options are now in place in Chattanooga to ensure safe, happy dealings.

Categories: Local News

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