Craigslist sale turns into terrifying attempted robbery
Published Thursday, November 10, 2016 6:00PM PST
A Vancouver man responding to a Craigslist ad about a laptop found himself running from a machete-wielding thief.
Peter, which is not his real name, arranged to meet the seller on Forest Grove Drive in Burnaby Tuesday evening.
“It was a good price,” he said.
But his pursuit of a good deal turned into a terrifying confrontation. Peter showed up at the address, but he says the seller refused to give an apartment number until Peter was on scene. Eventually, the seller, Andy, told him he was in suite 103. No such address exists.
“Which is when it really twigged something bad was going to happen. I noticed a dark figure emerging from the shadows," Peter recalled Thursday.
Peter says a tall man wearing a balaclava and carrying a machete came toward him and said, “Hey Buddy, give me the f***ing money.”
Peter ran away down Forest Grove Drive and tried to flag down a passing bus.
“The driver finally let me on and people moved to the back of the bus obviously thinking I was some crazed lunatic. No one offered me any help and, crying my eyes out, clearly distressed, I dialed 911.”
Police met Peter at Production Way station and they returned to the location. Police dogs scoured the 9100-block of Forest Grove but couldn’t find the suspect.
Peter says he uses Craigslist a lot and never thought this could happen to him. He wants to tell his story to warn others, but he is still afraid, and asked that CTV not use his real name.
Last month, a man selling expensive Air Jordan runners arranged a meeting with a person he thought was a buyer. Several men showed up, tried on the shoes and took off.
Last year, a man was beaten unconscious in his East Vancouver apartment after trying to sell jewelry online.
Police say person-to-person sales that go wrong can be hard to investigate when all they have is a phone number for the suspect.
“In these kinds of situations, make sure you go to a public place and that you've got some people with you,” says Staff Sgt. Maj. John Buis. He adds it’s a good idea to get a serial number of the product before buying it to make sure it’s not stolen. Buis welcomes transactions to take place outside the police detachment. Vancouver police also recommend doing the sales in their lobby.
Meanwhile, Peter did end up buying a computer -- but he bought it the old fashioned way -- from a store.