Tonight I just noticed this article posted on the ABC News website on “Is your Stolen Stuff on Craigslist? Here’s What to Do” The article has some great tips and advice on what to do if something gets stolen from you.
I wanted to focus on their advice at the end of the article. Here are my thoughts on each one of their points.
“1. Stock photos on postings rather than actual photos.” In general, it’s good to stay away from items without photos or with just stock photo’s. The item might not necessarily be stolen, but often times it’s got serious cosmetic issues that would drive potential buyers away. I’ve got to check out items without pictures before, knowing the risk, and probably 50% of the time I end up walking away.
“2. Seller wants to meet somewhere away from their residence.” Vindicated! Almost every article I’ve read on “Craigslist safety” recommends not going to the sellers house. For the most part, I won’t meet people in public places, especially if it’s an electronic item. Too many times it’s just a thief that doesn’t want you to know where they live. There is no recourse when you meet people in public. If you read stories of people getting mugged and robbed etc, it’s often out in public because they listened to the prevailing advice to “always meet in a public, crowded place”. The comments at the bottom of the articles page is a great example. They are questioning the advice of these guys who spend all their time dealing with Craigslist criminals.
“3. Poor description on the item.” Not only a good way to recognize stolen goods, but a great way to recognize damaged goods. In general, the less people put in the description, the less nice things they could come up with for the item. Remember that! Tiny description, I usually just pass over the item.
“4. Over-eager sellers.” You usually can’t find this out until you talk with them on the phone. Best response? Tell them you need to think about it and that you might call them back. Then forget about the item.
“5. If telephone numbers are spelled out instead of using digits as a way of hiding the ads.” This can be for a number of reasons, none of them good. Again, in general, stay away from items with weird ads like that. Either the item is stolen, or it’s a dealer concealing his number, or it’s a person that has other reasons for his number to not be easily searched via Craigslist. Flag these ads 🙂