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The Craigslist Killer

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The Craigslist Killer

Old 03-07-15, 09:07 PM
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The Craigslist Killer

I'll try to keep it brief but this story involves the convergence of three separate events. It also highlights the growing gap in understanding between the over fifties and the younger generation, I think

1 - I've been trying to sell a mountain bike on Craigslist
2 - I've been lusting after a Salsa Fargo, the mountain bike sale will cover a nice chunk of the cost of a Fargo
3 - I'm too cheap to pay for premium movies in my cable package.

So I've had the Craigslist ad for my GT Karakoram posted for a few weeks and I've dropped the price a couple of times. Last night I'm watching some rubbish on the tube and I get an email from a guy interested in the bike. We switch from email to texts and we arrange to meet at the Walmart Super-Center in Sturgeon Bay. He's driving up from Green Bay, about a two hour round trip, and I'm driving south from Egg Harbor, about a fifty minute round trip.

He's made all the right noises and the guy can spell and put together an email, and appears to function with some degree of lucidity, so I avoid insulting him with the usual pre-screening questions I use for handling Craigslist responders, like: 'would you like me to send some money to Nigeria?', and 'are you sure you want to meat me and not meet me?'.

We set the time for 4pm and I tell him we should meet opposite the Garden center in the main parking lot, as I know that nobody parks down there in the winter.

A short time later, miraculously, out of the blue….a 2013 Fargo pops up on one of my Trader groups on Facebook. I can hardly believe my eyes. These things are like hen's teeth and I could be putting together a deal tomorrow if everything goes well with my new buddy from Craigslist.

It's Friday night, I'm drinking Earl Grey tea and eating a Cadbury's chocolate bar and flicking through thirteen channels of sh*t on the TV and life is good. It's all falling into place.

As I'm surfing through the dross I notice a movie on LMNHD that gets screened over and over and over, but I'd never even paused to consider watching it before now - The Craigslist Killer.

What the heck, why not. I never watch anything live as I can't deal with the commercial interruptions so I decide to record it and perhaps watch it in a day or two.

At 3:50 pm on Saturday I pull into the empty section of the parking lot at Walmart, directly opposite the Garden Center. There are no other cars around.

I open the trunk, whip out the bike, pop on the front wheel and lean it against the back of the car so it's fully visible.

Fifteen minutes later I'm starting to wonder where this dufuss is when I get a text from him saying 'I'm waiting outside Walmart, where are you?'.

I finally get him down to the Garden Center with the aid of some tricky directions - drive down the front of the building, follow the big sign where it says 'Garden Center'.

I see his car approach and I notice there are two guys inside and that the larger of the two can barely see over the top of the steering wheel.

The short guy gets out first and I figure he's maybe 5' tall in his stocking feet. Now bear in mind I'm 6' 4" and I'm selling an XL framed bike. So he comes ambling over with his pants hanging at half mast and has a look around the bike. "Wow, it looks brand new, cool"

"It's not for you, is it?" I ask rather cautiously. "No, it's for my friend in the car, I'm the expert so I'm checking it out for him". So then his buddy comes over, he's maybe 5' 5". I say nothing. He gets on the bike and tries to ride it around the parking lot. As I'm watching him I know what's coming next. He rolls back towards us, hits the brakes, tries to put his feet down and crushes his nuts on the top tube.

Speaking in a higher pitched voice than previous, he declares "I think it's too big for me".

Go figure, Sherlock.

So his friend huffs and puffs and mutters something incoherent and starts walking back towards the car. So I ask the guy whose eyes are still watering "Didn't you see that the frame was an XL, it was stated in both the ad title and in the description?".

"No", he replies.

"So you came all this way to look at a bike and you didn't know what size frame it had?

"I guess", he says to me nonchalantly, as if it's to be expected.

As I'm driving back north I couldn't shake off the feeling that these two muffins were just a couple of dudes who meant no harm but didn't have a brain between the pair of them. Who the hell goes off to buy a bike without knowing how big it is…it's the second piece of information one looks for after seeing the make/model of the bike, isn't it?

Anyway, I'm back home now and getting ready to sit down to watch The Craigslist Killer. It will take on an added dimension, I'm sure of it. I'm quite certain the plot will involve someone responding to an ad and not being seen again. I'm just surprised that this isn't pretty much a daily occurrence, since I almost scored a two'fer today from my first ad in weeks.

Anyone looking for a Karakoram in an XL frame, call me.
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Old 03-07-15, 09:20 PM
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XL = Extra Lite, dude? I'm looking for a light bike.
Hope the movie had a better ending.
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Old 03-07-15, 09:44 PM
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The only way I will drive anywhere for something I am selling is to get a deposit on paypal that can be applied to the purchase if they buy. If they want to see it without a deposit they come to my turf.
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Old 03-07-15, 10:24 PM
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I have sold many,many items on Craigs List. I always do the deal at my house. I would never myself, or ever recommend to another seller, to meet a buyer anywhere but at your home or residence.
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Old 03-07-15, 10:34 PM
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I have them come to my house also, they only get to the garage no further and I always got my .40 S&W tucked in the back of my jeans.
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Old 03-07-15, 11:13 PM
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Honestly, if it meant world peace I wouldn't give my home address to a stranger from Craigslist. I rarely trade on CL, but that's a rule I'd always apply. The occasional inconvenience offsets the nightmares of a home invasion!
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Old 03-07-15, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by bruised
So his friend huffs and puffs and mutters something incoherent and starts walking back towards the car. So I ask the guy whose eyes are still watering "Didn't you see that the frame was an XL, it was stated in both the ad title and in the description?".

"No", he replies.

"So you came all this way to look at a bike and you didn't know what size frame it had?

"I guess", he says to me nonchalantly, as if it's to be expected.
I'm not surprised at all. People who have previously only shopped for bikes in big box stores aren't that likely to know they even come in different frame sizes. AFAIK my father's view of bicycle sizes when I was growing up was that kids got bikes with 20" wheels (or smaller) and then moved up to 24" wheels and eventually 26" wheels. When I mentioned a frame size it meant nothing to him (and when younger he had ridden a bike from Germany to Italy across the Alps - so he wasn't totally unfamiliar with bicycle touring).

Your ad didn't help much to make things clearer with the only indication being the "XL" which could stand for various things to the unfamiliar. No mention of it having an extra large frame nor a hint that it would be suitable for riders over 6' tall.
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Old 03-08-15, 07:17 AM
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thanks for this extremely entertaining post.
I can't wait for the next installment
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Old 03-08-15, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by bruised

He rolls back towards us, hits the brakes, tries to put his feet down and crushes his nuts on the top tube.

Speaking in a higher pitched voice than previous, he declares "I think it's too big for me".
thanx for the momentary loss of coffee and breath!
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Old 03-08-15, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by OldsCOOL
thanx for the momentary loss of coffee and breath!
Did you notice the OP's screen name?
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Old 03-08-15, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by elmore leonard
I have sold many,many items on Craigs List. I always do the deal at my house. I would never myself, or ever recommend to another seller, to meet a buyer anywhere but at your home or residence.
I never meet a Craigs List buyer at my home, nor give them my address or even my full name. Craigs List is recon central for lazy thieves who can come to your house, test ride a nice bike, and come back later to relieve you of it (and any other bikes you happen to have in the garage). Neutral territory is my rule. If they want a test ride, I hold their drivers license and snap a picture of them with the bike on my cell phone before they go. I've only had one person refuse and chances are that it prevented my bike from disappearing. If they are on the up and up and actually buy the bike, they get a receipt with my name and limited contact information. When I buy a bike from an individual, the rules are similar and I request a written receipt with a name matching their photo ID. Some people think I'm paranoid, but I just think its good business and most honest people understand precautions against getting ripped off or buying stolen goods.

Last edited by GravelMN; 03-08-15 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 03-08-15, 07:55 AM
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This thread is about a movie you watched? I want my two minutes back.
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Old 03-08-15, 07:57 AM
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I enjoy wrenching on bikes in the off season. Come spring I usually have some to sell. I always post of CL and sell the bikes from my home.

Thievery.... is not a profession. Most theft is opportunistic. The skills of planning a heist (even through CL)... is greater than the average crack head bike grabber can muster. Sure there are a lot of big city bike theft... simply because bikes are easy pickings and very low risk.

But why would anyone go through all the hassle of a CL crime (that is also higher crimes and greater risks).... when they can walk to Star Bucks... and just wait a few minutes for their next new bike to show up?
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Old 03-08-15, 07:59 AM
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A lot of people don't know bikes come in different sizes. When I was selling my 63cm Cannondale I got several inquires from guys at work and none of them were over about 5'8'. This was with them seeing the thing right in front of them.

I ended up selling it to a guy who is 6'5". Fit him nicely.
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Old 03-08-15, 09:43 AM
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I had a conversation with a friend who was pretty excited about a CL bike. He was after me to tell him what I thought about it, and when I saw the picture I told him it was to big for him. He asked my how I knew, and I told him it was much too big for me and he was only an inch or two taller.

When he explained he had no idea about how a bike should fit, we had a conversation about bike fit after that.

I also intend to never watch the CL Killer.

Last edited by Wileyrat; 03-08-15 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 03-08-15, 09:47 AM
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I guess I have more faith in people then you do. I have done over 100 Craigs List sales at the front door of my house and every person was a nice as could be.
You meet the finest people on Craigs List. Seriously.
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Old 03-08-15, 10:18 AM
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I trawl the CL bike ads daily and I always get frustrated with people who list expensive bikes and fail to mention the frame size.

One of the two guys who showed up was supposedly an 'expert' and claimed to have other mountain bikes in his collection. It just surprised me that having made it quite clear the bike was XL, and providing a link to the manufacturer's page which includes a sizing chart, the guys would travel so far not having understood that the bike was quite big!

As far as my inconvenience, there really wasn't any. I go to Sturgeon Bay frequently as I live on the outskirts of a one-horse town and Sturgeon Bay is where the action is at! (I went to Pick n' Save for groceries - that's what old people do for action, isn't it?).

Though I wasn't really looking to spotlight the issue of giving people your home address, that seems to have been focused on. I guess I'm less trusting than some. I live on a large lot in the boonies and we don't have neighbors. It's quite isolated and I know my wife is uncomfortable at home when I spend the occasional night on the road. I prefer not to advertise our location to every Tom, Dick and Harry - I just feel more secure that way. Were we in a more secure neighborhood, perhaps with a neighborhood watch program, I wouldn't give it a second thought.

Thanks for reading, and sorry to the one guy who felt I robbed him of his time It was just meant to be a bit of light fun.
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Old 03-08-15, 10:19 AM
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It all depends on where you live and what you are selling. When I lived in a college town, at the house is fine. Now that I live on the edge of Detroit, I am far more wary and don't want to invite strangers to my home. So only 3 blocks away, the public library shared the parking lot with the police station and is fine. Also, a Panera Bakery or Staples parking lot works too.
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Old 03-08-15, 11:38 AM
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My wife gets suspicious of me meeting strange men in motorway service centres, but she's used to it by now.
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Old 03-08-15, 11:53 AM
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I don't do a lot of "tire kicking" on Craigslist. If I'm going to show up, I probably want the item, and have cash in my pocket.

I have done a couple of "meet me in the middle" deals. I guess I'm not going to have someone drive to meet me, and not complete the deal. Nor would I have them drive to meet me, then try to change the terms of the deal on them.

Maybe I don't represent all the buyers. Should I consider the seller to be vulnerable after diving to meet me, and beat them down on the price after they have already gone out of their way to make the deal in good faith?
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Old 03-08-15, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
Did you notice the OP's screen name?
Makes one wonder, doesnt it?
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Old 03-08-15, 12:50 PM
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We have had several robberies, here in Tampa, that started off as innocent CL sales, meeting in isolated areas. I have only sold one item, my old Giant Defy, on CL but made sure that the meeting place was in a public place; in front of the library. He asked to test ride the bike and the only reason I let him do it was because he was alone and his car was was with me. Had he brought someone with him, I would have asked for his car keys before letting him take the bike for a ride. I was also packing in case there was more than one person in the car. As it turned out, it all went nice and smooth and we each ended up with what we wanted.
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Old 03-08-15, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by John_V
I would have asked for his car keys before letting him take the bike for a ride.
Also works if the buyer shows up with a Testarosa...

(so you can take a test drive too)

Most people are pretty ordinary. Take a few necessary precautions, but don't let fear rule your life.
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Old 03-08-15, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by bruised
Honestly, if it meant world peace I wouldn't give my home address to a stranger from Craigslist. I rarely trade on CL, but that's a rule I'd always apply. The occasional inconvenience offsets the nightmares of a home invasion!
We experienced a similar experience, my son advertised some of his guitars and amps for sale using our home tel number. It doesn't take a genius to perform a reverse lookup and obtain the address. The result, not only did he lose 5 guitars, several amps and associated equipment, as a family we lost several computers, cameras, etc etc.

The take away? We use a cell number in our ads, and prescreen buyers before giving out our home address.
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Old 03-08-15, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter
I enjoy wrenching on bikes in the off season. Come spring I usually have some to sell. I always post of CL and sell the bikes from my home.

Thievery.... is not a profession. Most theft is opportunistic. The skills of planning a heist (even through CL)... is greater than the average crack head bike grabber can muster. Sure there are a lot of big city bike theft... simply because bikes are easy pickings and very low risk.

But why would anyone go through all the hassle of a CL crime (that is also higher crimes and greater risks).... when they can walk to Star Bucks... and just wait a few minutes for their next new bike to show up?
I agree that most bike theft is opportunistic, but law enforcement in our region is warning people not to give out their addresses in for sale ads in printed or online media as there have been several burglaries of expensive items that were listed in classified ads. Granted, I haven't heard of any involving bicycles, but one individual lost a jet ski and trailer right out of his garage after giving out his address to a number of respondents to his CL ad. No way to know for sure that it was one of the CL respondents that stole the jet ski, but why take the chance when there are plenty of public places within a few miles.

I've bought and sold on Craigs List many times over the past several years and 90+ % of the interactions have been good. But there was one sketchy one where the individual was very eager to take a test ride but bolted when asked for ID or some form of security to assure his return (like I said, I usually ask to hold on to their drivers license or at least take a snapshot of them with the bike). I used to have buyers come to the house and again the majority of the interactions had been very good but I stopped when I had a guy in his late teens or early 20s who tried to waaaay lowball me on a bike then get kinda pushy about what other bikes I had because maybe he'd make a better offer on one of them.

Unfortunately, for some, theft is a career. Within an hour of my home, there have been a number of burglary rings or individuals arrested for strings of burglaries. Armed robberies are also way up in nearby towns. A convenience store that I frequent on one of my long ride routes had a daylight armed robbery last week. In the small town where I live (population < 2,000) last summer a teenager who lives on my street, and one of his friends was arrested for several thefts including a car (that was later set on fire and abandoned), a pickup and a trailer with two snowmobiles. The year before that, my daughter's car was demolished (parked and unoccupied) when a young teen stole a convertible and lost control at high speed right in front of my home. Yeah, I'm pretty careful about letting people I don't know well, know where I live, what I own and where I keep it.
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