Crime Watch

Crime Watch: Meet in public when buying or selling with strangers


Special to The Miami Herald

This past week, I received an email regarding Craigslist and Ebay. The writer said that she heard of people being robbed in her community, attacked and hurt because they were either buying or selling items over the Internet.

These two companies are reputable, and it’s not their fault that the buyer or seller is not using good crime-prevention techniques. Whether you are the buyer or seller, please don’t have the other party come to your house or business. Meet in a public place where there are lots of people, and bring someone with you. I had one reader suggest meeting at the local police station or someplace where there is a security guard, like a bank. I know this is difficult in some cases, but we truly need to take extra precautions. I also had a reader who almost got robbed from an ad in the paper, so it’s not just Craigslist or Ebay. Please be careful and vigilant.

Another reader, named Marvin, informed me that he had received a call on Christmas Eve from someone who stated they were from Florida Power Light. The caller told this reader that they were going to shut his electricity for failing to pay his bill. Marvin explained that he had paid his bill so the caller stated it had not arrived, and asked for a credit card number. Unfortunately the reader provided his credit card. The caller was slick gave him a confirmation number of his payment. Once the reader realized what he had done he canceled the card and made phone calls to make sure his information was not compromised. But it took lots of time and energy which he could have avoided by hanging up.

Another reader sent me the following, which made me feel great, knowing that my column helped her:

Dear Carmen,

I wanted to advise you that your information about ATMs saved me from getting robbed on Christmas Day. I went during the day like you said, but I went by myself which I shouldn’t have, since I am 80 years old. But I needed quick cash for the grandchildren. I pulled up at my bank and the lot was empty. I got out and a few minutes later there was a car that pulled up by the curb, a Cadillac Escalate which I thought, “well it’s a fancy car so no harm.”

Well, a woman got out and stood behind me. I noticed she had nothing in her hands,and thought “OK, well, it’s safe.” A second before I started to put my pin she came up to me and said “she had never used an ATM if I could show her how. At that point the “hair behind my neck stood up” and I said to her “I have never done this before I better call my son” as she got closer I just turned around and walked away straight to my car and locked myself in immediately. She then turned around and got back into the car and sped away. Needless to say, I didn’t stay either. That “hair in the back of my neck” like you say helped me from possibly getting robbed.

Gina in Kendall

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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