Bakersfield police warn of stranger danger from selling online

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Police are warning the public to completely stay away from buying and selling things on sites like Craigslist, because of the danger it brings when meeting a stranger.And, after Wednesday's robbery at The Marketplace, one can understand why.Wednesday afternoon, an unidentified victim unknowingly agreed to meet up with four alleged criminals, after looking to buy an electronic online.Police did not verify which website the man made contact with the victims, but said the two parties agreed to meet at The Marketplace, where the alleged criminal "sellers" robbed the man after leading him to believe that he could purchase the item. Police said the suspects took off in a car, and after a short pursuit eventually pulled into a parking lot on White Lane. Three of the four suspects fled from the car on the foot, and the driver made a sudden U-turn towards an armed officer. The officer fired his gun at the driver, 23-year-old Eric Miles Jr. Miles was struck several times, arrested and transported to Kern Medical Center with minor injuries.A second suspect, 29-year-old Brandon Burns, was caught on foot a short time later. Both Miles and Burns have a lengthy criminal record, the type of people police warn you risk running into when shopping online through sites like Craigslist."You are choosing to take that risk, because it is a risk. You might get scammed or possibly hurt," said Carina Ortiz with the BPD Crime Prevention Unit.And, in San Francisco, prosecutors are calling 21-year-old Ronnie Collins the "Christmastime predator."Collins is accused of killing an online seller over a PlayStation 4 last Sunday. He met the seller on social media site Instagram. The murder has become a wake-up call for many, in the height of the holiday shopping season. "Complacency. Not getting caught up in the excitement of the holidays, but still being aware of your surroundings, the choices that you're going to be making, and the risk with making those certain choices," said Ortiz.BPD offers some precautions when agreeing to meet someone you met online:

  • Choose the location wisely. The more eyes and ears around you, the better.
  • Meet during the day. Even if the transaction appears to have gone through fine, you still run the risk of being followed home. Daylight visibility is important.
  • Never meet up with someone alone.

Though the department's best advice is to avoid meeting up with strangers at all cost by staying away sites like Craiglist. Ortiz said, "We don't want anybody meeting anybody online. So, realistically, using Craigslist is not an ideal form, it is not anything that we recommend."Stick to sites that'll ship items to you. No good deal is worth your safety.