Deserved or not, car dealers have a long and much-storied reputation as disreputable. But they do have one thing, at least, in their favor: To date, no car salesman has literally held a gun to your head.

That may actually become a selling point in Oakland, where the police department has issued a community alert about a series of robberies that occurred after victims, lured to a meeting place through Craiglist car ads, are held up at gunpoint.

From the Oakland Tribune:

Police are warning Craigslist users about a recent series of robberies — some of which have turned violent — related to ads for cars for sale posted on the popular website.

The ads have lured more than half a dozen victims from all over Northern California offering incredible deals on expensive-model cars, Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi said. E-mails are exchanged and meetings are set up in the early afternoon or evening in different Oakland neighborhoods — such as the Dimond and Rockridge districts — to presumably conclude the purchase. Instead, police said, the victim is robbed at gunpoint and, in at least two cases, physically attacked. Full article

Here’s a video report from KGO, in which OPD spokeswoman Holly Joshi says the frequency and violent intensity of the robberies has increased in the past few weeks.

You can read the OPD alert here. And from Craiglist, some safety guidelines:

When meeting someone for the first time, please remember to:

* Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe
* Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home
* Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items
* Tell a friend or family member where you’re going
* Take your cell phone along if you have one
* Consider having a friend accompany you
* Trust your instincts


Robbers Luring Craigslist Car Buyers in Oakland 28 December,2010Jon Brooks

  • Keeping safe on Geebo and other classifieds sites:

    It is important that you know how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe when using online classified advertising sites. Here are a few reminders:

    •When selling, do not put your home address in your ad.
    •To avoid scams, buy and sell with people you can meet locally, in person.
    •When meeting with someone you don’t know, meet in a public place. If that’s not possible, have a buddy with you. Also, carry a cell phone; if you feel unsafe, you can call a trusted friend, and stay on the line.
    •Never give out financial or private information like account numbers, PayPal login, or social security number.
    •If an offer sounds too good to be true, it is. Walk away!

    When choosing a classifieds site:

    •Use only sites where ads are reviewed before they go live on the site rather than relying a flagging or rating system that leaves users vulnerable in the mean time.
    •Use sites that do not carry adult ads. Not only do these present risks to our children, but they can harbor human trafficking activities that harm people and open the door to other criminal activity.
    •If you are unsure about the safety of a particular classifieds site, do your own quick research. Type the site’s name into Google News or Yahoo! News. Are the results filled with news stories about crime? Then stay away. This is a case where no news is good news!


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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