ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Another St. Louisan ended up staring down the barrel of a gun after posting an ad on Craigslist -- the fourth incident in our area.
Police say robbers used a pistol to steal the man's cell phone. They are calling this new crime trend "robbery by appointment."
You can buy or sell nearly anything on Craigslist -- cars, couches, cell phones -- but police say it's also a gold mine for thieves, who take Craigslist ads as invitations to steal.
A trio is charged with robbery and armed criminal action after police say they lured a St. Louis man to the riverfront in a ruse to buy the cell phone he listed for sale on Craigslist. When the seller showed up, he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney charged Gregory Dixon, 21, Alexis Gines, 18, and Dejuan Ethridge with Robbery and Armed Criminal Action.
Maryland Heights Police Captain Scott Will says the case sounds familiar.
"We had a case very similar to that recently, which a young man tried to sell an iPhone on Craigslist," Capt. Will said.
Instead, Will says the man walked right into a robbery. Just two weeks ago in St. Ann another man was robbed of his expensive Air Jordan tennis shoes the same way. Police say it's happening everywhere. A Fairview Heights couple was allegedly lured to a bogus address in Cahokia in December, where three men pointed a gun at their 12-year-old son and robbed them of the X-Box and laptop they had intended to sell.
"It's a growing problem in the crime world," Capt. Will said. "I think as time goes along, the bad guys are evolving and they're looking for the easiest way to find a target, and we have people on Craigslist basically telling them where the expensive things are."
Maryland Heights police patrol the internet looking for suspicious sounding sales. They say if you're a seller -- or buyer -- find out as much as you can about the person you're dealing with, take someone with you, and meet in a public place. Or better yet, make that the police department.
"We have a nice lobby here if they want to make a sale or transaction or on the parking lot," Capt. Will said. "I would hazard a guess you'd probably be less likely to be robbed."
And don't forget to trust good old fashioned instincts. If something just doesn't feel right about a sale, walk away before it's too late.