DENVER — If hindsight is 20/20, Shaunte Brown can now see the red flags plain as day.
"It happened on the corner right here of 23rd and Humboldt," she said, pointing. "I would have told him 'no, meet somewhere else! It's a setup.'"
But Wednesday night, she and her boyfriend thought they had found a great deal on an iPhone on LetGo, an online marketplace for buying and selling used goods.
They agreed to meet the seller, but then saw two other men running toward them.
"Seconds later, these guys came from across the street and pulled a gun on us and we took off running," she said. "When we came back, we saw they had gotten into the car and stolen my purse and phone. Thank God I'm still here to tell my story. I don't want it to happen to nobody else."
As buying and selling on sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and LetGo becomes more common, police said, so are the crimes.
Last April, a Denver man was bear maced and his car stolen after he posted it for sale on Craigslist.
The crimes have escalated.
In Aurora last year, police said Jacob Clymber was selling an Xbox when the buyer shot and killed him.
Since October 5, Denver police have had 12 reports of crimes involving victims attempting to buy or sell items through a third-party website.
"In some of the reported incidents, when the victim met the suspect, they were robbed and sometimes assaulted by the person they were meeting for the sale," said DPD in a statement.
Police stated that while using a third-party website to buy or sell items is not inherently dangerous, safety precautions should always be taken.
DPD released these tips:
- Conduct the transaction during the day
- Don’t go alone - have a friend or family member with you when meeting the seller/buyer
- Let family or friends know where you will be meeting to conduct the transaction
- Meet in a public, high-traffic area where you are visible to others in case something goes wrong
- A good place to meet is at a police station. Inform the officer at the front desk on why you are there.
- If you cannot meet in a public place because the item is large, such as furniture or an appliance, bring the item out to an open garage, awning or porch
- Avoid bringing anyone into your home or going into someone’s home
- Do not share private information
- Do not use a home phone number to avoid having the phone traced back to your home
- Never post your home address when selling something
- Set up a special email account just for doing business
- See it before you buy it
- Make sure you can see the item before you buy it
- Trust your instincts
- If something doesn’t feel right, know that you can always cancel the meeting.