The Charlotte Observer reports that in recent weeks, two men have assaulted and robbed three people in the University City area after contacting the victims through Craigslist to say they wanted to buy a used iPad.
The men lured the victims to unpopulated areas by offering to buy used iPads for much more than the original price, said Capt. Mike Smathers, who oversees the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department Armed Robbery and Sexual Assault Division.
The men suggested meeting at an apartment complex to conduct the exchange and then robbed or tried to rob the victims.
In the most recent case, March 23 on Ivy Meadows Drive near the Piedmont at Ivy Meadow apartment complex, someone offered to pay more than three times the face value of a used iPad, said Smathers. When they met to exchange the iPad, the men assaulted and robbed the victim.
"There's the posting, the expression of interest and the facilitation of arrangement to meet," said Smathers, who said people should be careful when communicating through Craigslist.
Although the incidents are clustered in the University City area, they are not in the same apartment complex. There is not one location or one trigger point, Smathers said.
The other incidents were reported on Caroway Street near the Harris Houston apartment complex and Windy Creek Drive near Village at Brierfield.
The victims are given very specific directions to the meeting spot, Smathers said. The men lure them into a dark cul-de-sac or underneath a staircase, and people do not sense the danger until it is too late, he said.
According to Smathers, suspects used "a pistol of varying descriptions" in all three incidents to intimidate the victims, but no shots were fired.
"These concern me because they can impact anyone anywhere in the city," said Smathers. "Lots of people use Craigslist."
According to police reports, the suspects are two black men age 18 to 20. They both are about 5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet tall and approximately 165 to 175 pounds.
"I certainly want to ... clear this up," said Smathers, who said he hopes people will be very cautious and skeptical when conducting such transactions. "We need any information the public can give us."
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.
By Carl W. Brooks