Crime Tracker

Police: Man targeting victims on Craigslist

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A warning from police about a tech-savvy serial robber -- a man believed to be connected to a series of thefts. In each case, he targets his victims by finding them first on the popular website Craigslist.

The victims were lured to the same areas in the 4th Ward, downtown and Montrose. Police say it appears the thieves are interested in folks with iPhones. Now they're hoping a new composite sketch can help lead them to one of the major suspects.

Police say the man in the composite sketch is one of the players in a tech-savvy crime ring that's been targeting victims through online classifieds like Craigslist.

Houston Police Officer Michael Ybanez explained, "What happens is these victims are responding to these ads which are simply a ruse to get them to a certain part of town in order to rob them."

Detectives say the alleged crook has been going after people who've been trying to buy or sell iPhones, iPads and similar electronics.

"When they respond to the location given by the individual on the phone, they are ultimately robbed of their money, or their articles," Officer Ybanez said.

The most recent robbery happened in a parking lot in the 200 block of West Gray four weeks ago. It's where police say a young woman made arrangements to sell the unknown man her iPhone.

"However, instead of paying her the amount that was promised he simply reached in her vehicle and stole her phone and disappeared on foot into the surrounding neighborhood," Officer Ybanez said.

Investigators have been tracking about 20 similar robberies with the same MO since 2010. In each case, Officer Ybanez says the victims were lured to areas in the 4th Ward near Midtown or downtown.

He said, "I would say anytime a robbery happens, that there's a danger element involved and you need to be concerned for your personal safety."

Police believe the man in the sketch is well known in the area. The victims describe him as early to mid-20s, with a slim build and a pronounced gap in his teeth.

Anyone with information about the man in that sketch is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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