Craigslist Is Not Dangerous

January 19, 2014

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I just finished reading an article titled, “Why the Insane Danger of Posting on Craigslist Hit Way Too Close to Home for Me.” I could hardly get past the title without being compelled to respond. I’ve had thousands of transactions on Craigslist and I’ve learned a lot about both Craigslist, and the people that use it. My conclusion: Craigslist is not dangerous.

The article shared the story of a man that was selling some tickets on Craigslist and arranged to meet two young girls at a Starbucks, along with his girlfriend. They ended up luring him to their car where they asked to look at the tickets and proceeded to slam the door shut and drive off. In the ensuing moments as they were driving off, the man ended up being flung to the ground and got ran over by the vehicle, resulting in very serious injuries that will require months to recover from.

First of all, my heart goes out to the injured man and his family. It’s really sad to hear stories like this where people treat other people in such a way.

Second, this unfortunate incident has absolutely nothing to do with Craigslist. This could have happened to someone had they put a classified ad in the paper, an ad on a bulletin board at school or even if the person was attempting to sell the tickets in front of the venue. Craigslist is simply a marketplace that connects people. There will always be people in the world that will steal, murder and harm others in the pursuit of some sort of gain. If you want to avoid all dangerous situations in life, don’t avoid Craigslist, avoid being in contact with other human beings.

These types of things happen because there is something wrong with people, not Craigslist. I’ve had probably close to 5 thousand Craigslist transactions in the past 3 years, as I earn my living on Craigslist. Out of those thousands, I’ve only had one transaction where the lady gave my wife counterfeit money for some tools we were selling. I was out at the store at the time. We lost a few hundred bucks. Life goes on.

The lesson I learned: You can’t live in fear, or you will end up not really living. Don’t let criminals off the hook by blaming Craigslist for their actions. It distracts people from the real issue that needs to be addressed. People’s hearts.

The shifting of blame needs to stop. Schools are not bad because of school shootings. Malls are not bad because of mall shootings. Movie theaters are not bad because of movie theater shootings. Houses are not bad because people meet in them and occasionally get shot in them. Parks are not bad because people get robbed and assaulted in them. Professional ballparks are not bad because people get beat up in them. But for some reason Craigslist is bad.

The reality is that people are capable of doing horrible things, and those people can put a tarnish on an otherwise beautiful place. Craigslist has become the biggest and most used marketplace that has probably ever existed. It connects hundreds of millions of people to each other every year. People that would normally never meet or talk with one another. That is a beautiful thing. We must never allow the fear of a storm to prevent us from going back outside to enjoy the sunshine.

What’s your experience been like?

Note: I don’t recommend people meeting buyers or sellers in public parking lots. Thieves prefer public parking lots because they have an easy getaway and often can’t be traced back to a residence. It also gives them more control over the situation and environment. I recommend picking things up from people’s homes. If they don’t want you to meet them at their home, then pass on the item. The safest Craigslist transactions are carried out at the actual homes of the buyer or seller.

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18 Responses to “Craigslist Is Not Dangerous”

  1. Quinton Says:

    Good thoughts. I actually prefer to take my transactions to a parking lot because I don’t want people to know where I live. It just creeps me out to thinking of a lot of peeps knowing about my house.

    Probably irrational.

    I’ll have to rethink my strategy.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      The thing I recommend to people is “it’s your place, control the environment.” Basically if you have things that you wouldn’t want someone to see, then show the buyer your item on your front porch, or in your driveway. You can have people buy things from your house without giving them a tour of all your possessions :) Have extra cash to make change in case they need it, have things by the front door etc. In the end, the more transactions and people you deal with on Craigslist, the more your fear of them ends up going away.

      Reply

  2. charles Says:

    Hey, Ryan. I completely agree with you about the safety of craigslist if you use common sense. However, you’re actually the first person I know of who says meeting at the buyer’s or seller’s house is safer than a public place like a parking lot. I too have done so many craigslist transactions that I prefer to have people come by when I sell something, or I will meet them at their house or a public place on my way home from work if it’s convenient for me. But yeah, I gave up driving out to meet somebody directly from my house, then coming back home in favor of having them stop by simply for my convenience and gas savings. As a safety measure, I always indirectly let them know I am not alone at home.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      The sketchiest Craigslist transactions I’ve been a part of by far have been when the seller of an item wanted to meet in a parking lot. It’s not a secret either, when people get robbed during Craigslist transactions, it’s always in out in public places like parking lots.

      Reply

  3. Gregory Says:

    I think that guy should have hired Simon Templar to go to the Starbucks parking lot with him. [insert “The Saint” theme here]

    I like dealing at home. It saves the hassle of trying to meet with someone. Acting out of fear is never a good thing. It’s not good to go meet someone in public because you’re afraid to have them come over, and it’s not good to have someone come over because you’re afraid to meet them in public. When I buy, I go to the person. When I sell, I expect them to come to me. If I have to leave my house to sell something, it’s going to cost extra. I had someone tell me they were too uncomfortable to come to my house, and that they wanted to meet at Starbucks. I told them it’s not worth my time, and the item is right here, and if you get over your phobia, you can come get it. They never came.

    Reply

  4. Aleks Says:

    This is very true. The media really blows Craigslist’s safety risks out of proportion. Anything can happen anywhere, not just via an online marketplace.

    Anyway, I have the same reaction as Charles above: you’re the first person I’ve heard vouch for selling at home as being safer. As far as where to meet people, I go both ways. I typically sell larger items from my house (usually because those things are not very easily moved from place to place, and often because they are much higher value anyway). But everything else, where I meet in public places, is typically when I’m already out and about. When meeting in public, I always go into it prepared; I think it makes a big difference when in the back of your mind you expect any scenario to occur. Out of daily habit I always carry protection as well, so that helps. But I definitely see where you’re coming from!

    Reply

  5. Tom Says:

    I like dealing from work the most (in your case your home), but meeting someone at the office seems like a “safe’ medium.

    Next I would prefer to go to their home, somewhat do to realizing they are trust worthy if they let me come to them.

    I still do most of my deals out of my house, and do nothing to avoid that, I don’t particularly like having to do extra driving if I don’t have to.

    Reply

  6. Nigel Pearson Says:

    I am an armed security guard. Whenever my family decides to use Craigslist I dress up in my uniform with my sidearm and equipment. I am conviently “Just getting off work”, when the transaction takes place. We have never ever had problems. Sometimes the other guy even thinks I’m a policeman.

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  7. Alex Says:

    Great post. The media is always hounding Craigslist because of 1 transaction gone wrong. Yet they always seem to leave out the MILLIONS of transaction every year that go perfect, without a hitch.

    Can’t complain too much though. The type of people that will be scared off of a great marketplace because of a few bad apples probably aren’t worth your time anyway!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Thanks Alex. Yeah, the resale of goods isn’t very helpful to most businesses that rely on consumers always buying new.

      Reply

  8. ~LC Says:

    I TOTALLY agree that people are way too worried about buying and selling on CL, for no logical reason. But I have to say that one of the most important rules for selling successfully on CL is to make it convenient for the buyer, especially if you regularly sell small or inexpensive items. Because of what I sell (the majority are toys), many of my buyers are female and they will never agree to come to my house. It doesn’t matter that I’m a female too. It doesn’t help that I live several miles out of town and CL here is rather slow. So I found out quickly that if I stated I would be happy to meet in the parking lot of a nearby thrift store during the course of my normal errand runnings, I would be way more successful. Pretty much all the bargain-hunting buyers and sellers know exactly where this store is so it works like a charm. :-)

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      You make another good point. Smaller priced items will sell much better if the buyer isn’t too inconvenienced. If the buyer has to go too far out of their way, they will often flake out or cancel. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  9. Adam Says:

    Hey Ryan,

    First off, I’ve really enjoyed following your articles and advice. I recently picked up a trailer and my first washer (Kenmore 80-Series: $25) that I replaced the agitator dogs on for a quick and easy turnaround. Really excited to move forward with this! Anyway, I typically pick a fairly populated meeting place for most transactions and haven’t had anybody object to it yet. They’re always well-lit and in a public place that would make it a pretty conspicuous circumstance if anyone were to try anything shady. It would seem that inviting one stranger after another to our home to handle transactions would open up a vulnerability that would otherwise not exist if we opted to conduct transactions away from home in a public location or their home (in cases of delivery). If it were just me, I wouldn’t be so concerned. But for numerous strangers of unknown mental stability to know where my wife and children reside just doesn’t settle well with me or her. Whether unsatisfied with the purchase or some other reason, I’d rather not present them with the opportunity to revisit at their own free will, and possibly at a time when I’m away. Unfortunate as it is that we must be so cautious, it’s the world we live in now. And while some areas may be better than others, I know my area is not one in which people would be wise to take that gamble. Certainly a personal preference though, and not a thing wrong with either approach. :) Keep up the great work and churning out the inspirational stories and guidance!

    -Adam

    Reply

  10. Joel Says:

    Ryan,
    Here’s a tip that might be useful. I recently sold my van on Craigslist. There was this one guy who called about it. Of course, the first thing he asked is if the van is still available. I told him that as my ad states, “If you’re reading this ad, the vehicle is still available. Then he asked for my address as this was on a Monday and he couldn’t come see it until Saturday as his brother would have to give him a ride. I told him that he should check CL on Saturday morning and if he saw the ad then he should contact me for the address. He’d call throughout the week to check on it and try to get my address so I quit answering when I recognized his number. Then he would text me. I texted him back to call on Saturday morning if the ad was still up. That Friday night I sold the van to a person who came by and met my price. After the transaction, I texted the first guy to tell him that the van was sold and the ad was off CL. I thought it was the courteous thing to do. He texted me back that he didn’t believe me and that I just didn’t want to sell the van to him. Though he was probably harmless, I was glad someone else bought the van. If he had been a vengeful person, who knows what he might have done if I’d given him my address earlier. My advice is that if you are selling from your house don’t give out your address until the person tells you that they are about to leave to come to you. I believe most people understand why you would insist on doing that.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I think that’s great advice. I don’t give our address out until I’m sure the person is going to be coming right over, or at a set time that same day. It prevents exactly what you are talking about. I do think that havine a spurned buyer come to your house would be an extremely rare event and something that has never happened to me. Good advice though!

      Reply

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