Safety tips for Craigslist buyers and sellers

Safety tips for Craigslist buyers and sellers »Play Video
Local criminals are surfing the classifieds with no intention of buying anything.

A Pierce County man got killed trying to sell his jewelry on Craigslist. A Snohomish County man got tied up and robbed trying to sell his TV.

As police search for suspects, here are important security reminders for anyone trying to sell their personal belongings.

People sell stuff online and in the papers every day with no problem. But being too anxious to sell can put your personal security at risk, especially with expensive items.

Donn Christianson of Seattle is selling a gold ring on Craigslist. But potential buyers will not be invited to his home to see the ring in person. When it comes time to sell his ring, the former cop will take it to a public place he's familiar with and have the potential buyer come to him.

Never list your home address when selling items in any classified. Don't post any personal information.

"Criminals don't like witnesses." said Christianson. "And they're more likely to attack you in your home or someplace where nobody can see you. It's very unlikely that somebody is going to wander into this coffee shop right now- produce a fire arm and steal my ring. There's witnesses, there's a lot of people here."

Christianson says pick a public place for your meeting and get there early. Park far enough away that the person will have less of a chance of seeing what car you drive.

Ideally you'll be there early enough to see the potential buyer arrive and observe their behavior. If you feel concerned, you can keep the item concealed and not acknowledge anyone. You stay in control.

Whenever possible, meeting in public is also good advice for potential buyers.

"Who says I'm not the bad guy luring you here by selling you a ring really cheap?" Christianson asked. "So if we're in a public place, we're both safe or safer than we would be otherwise."

As for larger, heavy items you can't take out of the house, take extra precautions. Have other alert adults in the house -- the bigger, the better. And avoid appointments late at night.

Finally, keep all valuables and personal information out of sight.

"Letting someone in your home when you're alone, is your biggest risk," Christianson said.

The objective is to reduce the risk to yourself and increase the risk for a potential criminal.

"Don't be so desperate to sell something that you're willing to sell away your safety. It's as simple as that," Christianson said.

Sellers should also remember to ignore offers from buyers who want to send a cashiers check from out of state or outside the country for an amount in excess of the sale price. In virtually all cases, the checks are counterfeit. If you cash the checks and wire the balance to the buyers as instructed, your bank will hold you liable for the stolen money.