Authorities warn residents about Craigslist handyman scam - KMOV.com

Authorities warn residents about Craigslist handyman scam

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

News 4 is tracking a new tactic thieves are using on Craigslist to try and rip residents off.

They're offering their services as a handyman but all they really want is to gain access to a person’s home and steal their valuables.

That's what happened when a homeowner in Jefferson County had a garage full of tools and three guns stolen right after hiring a worker off Craigslist.

Police say avoid Craigslist completely, but that might be unrealistic since many people buy and sell on craigslist or hire workers quickly and easily without problems.

The recent Jefferson County victim apparently went wrong when he didn't check out the handyman thoroughly and then gave him unsupervised access to his home.    

“I mean we don't really have any crime in here, not since we've moved in,” said neighbor Alex Berkbueglar, who was shocked to hear the details of the theft.

The homeowner was away, and had hired the Craigslist “handyman” to fix some things up around the house.

"I think he had access to sheds and garages where most of the items were taken from and weren't discovered till an almost a two week period of time afterward," said Gary Higginbotham with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

The thief stole nine power tools including two chainsaws, yard tools, a log splitter, a set of golf clubs and three handguns.

"Weapons always worry us,” said Higginbotham. “We're always worried about them getting into the wrong hands, so we're very concerned about that."

Berkbueglar agreed, adding, "The guns is what scares me the most."

He may be worried by the stolen guns but not by Craigslist. His family has hired handymen off Craigslist before but were never the victims of crime.

"90-percent of the time it's gone smoothly,” he said. “People do the work. Or if you buy a cell phone off Craigslist, I've always had a good experience with that as well."

Sheriff's officials warn anyone doing business on Craigslist to use lots of caution. In the meantime, the search for the Craigslist handyman thief is making progress.

"We have a person of interest if the person utilized their own correct name and that person does have some thefts in the past," Higginbotham said.

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