Craigslist Heebie Jeebies

22 Mar

Never again will I shop on Craigslist.

Craigslist used to be my best friend.

The one and only place I find good deals on antique furniture to restore.

But lately my experiences have changed. I’ve found the prices are much higher and the work involved in hunting for treasures more and more difficult.  And the most disappointing is that several of the last places I’ve purchased things from, ending up putting me in some peculiar situations.

Then this week….I experienced the most uncomfortable (and scary) experience that made me decide never again to use Craigslist.

I was attempting to buy some tables I had been searching for the last several weeks.  I finally found a person selling what I wanted and the seller seemed reputable over the phone.  His said his name was “Eric” and he even made a comment as to how he was selling them for his church to help them out.  A man helping his church, can’t be bad person right?

I drove over to Eric’s house which ended up to be some sketchy looking apartment building in a somewhat scary neighborhood.  Eric had never mentioned it was an apartment complex before which I thought was kind of odd.  I finally found Eric standing outside next to his garage.  Eric’s apartment building was sort of like a townhome where there’s a garage attached and the garage also leads into the entrance of the house.

Eric looked like a decent looking person and things seemed to be okay even though the apartment complex wasn’t in the best area.  I was ready to do business.  I wanted to buy the tables quick and get back on the road because it was almost 5pm and Eric lived way much further from my home than I had realized. I saw inside Eric’s garage, and to my dismay, he had the tables I was supposed to buy and pick up — covered with junk.  They were loaded with household objects!  He knew I was coming over to pick them up and even called me beforehand to make sure my vehicle was large enough.  Why were the tables not ready?

Eric decided to start cleaning off the tables, we confirmed the price we had already agreed upon over the phone and I paid him.  I stood outside by my car and received a few business phone calls while Eric began cleaning off the tables.  Two of Eric’s neighbors stopped by to talk to Eric while he was unloading the tables and they chatted for a long time like they were all best friends.  Erik could have cleaned the tables off in less than 5 minutes but seemed to be taking his sweet time and kept chatting with friends and staring at me.

Then things started to get really strange.  Eric kept trying to attempt personal conversations and interrupting me while I was obviously discussing business on the phone.  And he must have repeated to me 20 times how he was helping out his church by selling these tables.  Really?  I started doubting most of what he was telling me.  Even about the church.  How can they belong to your church when they are sitting in your garage with all your personal junk on them?

It’s hard to explain but I developed a bad gut feeling.  Something just didn’t seem right.  It wasn’t only what he was saying but… how he was acting.  Time was passing by more and more.  At this point I had been at Eric’s house at least 25 minutes.  Eric continually stared at me and kept trying to veer me inside his garage to look at something or talk with him.  Silly reasons that didn’t make sense or seem important.  I stood out in the driveway and never once crossed inside his garage door.

Things just started feeling more and more “fishy” especially after the last of Eric’s neighbors stepped out of Eric’s garage.  The very second Eric’s neighbor (and friend) stepped one foot outside of Eric’s garage and next door to his own garage, Eric asked me to come inside his garage and help him carry an electric keyboard off the last table that was being cleaned.

That request hit me like a lightening bolt.  Why in the hell would he ask me (a woman) to move an object when his strong manly friend was immediately next door in the very next attached garage?  Eric had known this object needed to be moved and his male friends who had been hanging out with him the last 15 minutes could have easily helped him with this.  I was still on the phone so I ended the call so I could respond and deal with Eric.

There was no way I was going inside that garage.  If I walked in that garage and Eric was some crazy psycho killer or rapist I would be doomed.  Once inside the garage, he would be able to shut the garage door trapping me inside.  I know it seems delusional but again…things felt really strange and I was not comfortable.  More and more my feelings grew worse.  I was so caught off guard by his request to help move the keyboard I didn’t know what to say…so I lied. I told him I had just had back surgery and could not lift a pound.   He said not to worry, he would find a way to do it himself.  I suggested he ask his friend next door.  He said “no he’s inside”.  I informed him his neighbor was still outside but Eric never went to ask him.  He again kept staring at me and trying to attempt silly conversations trying to bond with me so I pretended to be on the phone and walked further away from his garage toward my car and tried not to make eye contact.

I was standing near my car pretending to be on the phone and 9 minutes passed without Eric walking outside to my car to load the last table.   The time spent pretending to be on the fake phone call seemed to last forever. I wondered what could be going on?  What was taking him so long to move the keyboard?  I had been there at least 45 minutes now –my patience was wearing thin and my stress skyrocketing.  I nervously walked back to the entrance of the garage and there Eric stood next to the table with the keyboard still sitting on top of it!  I pretended to put my caller on hold and ask Eric what was going on.  I heard again “Can you come inside and help me move this keyboard?”  Oh hell no.  I again informed him I had back surgery and could not lift a pound.  I even embellished the lie by saying I had just had surgery a few weeks ago.  I was not only scared at this point but pissed off.  Pissed at Eric.  Pissed at myself for putting myself in this situation.

The neighbors’ garages were all lined up together in a row.  Since several garage doors were open and it meant I could see inside not only their garages but also inside several of their homes.  I told Eric he needed to ask his neighbor who was no longer inside his garage but instead inside his house with both the front door and garage door open.

Eric reluctantly walked to his buddy/neighbor’s house and barely stuck his head inside the door….and immediately walked back over to me.  He said he can’t…he’s inside holding his baby.  I didn’t say it out loud but in my head I was thinking…WTH?  He can’t put the baby down and come outside and help you for 30 seconds but he just spent 15 minutes outside here with you gossiping and smoking a cigarette?

I had no doubt Eric was lying.   I was sure he had an alterior motive besides having me come inside to move the keyboard.  I was DONE.  I wanted out of there and out of there NOW.  I asked him what he wanted to do about the situation.  He said I could help him move the keyboard or receive my money back for the one table. I took my money back and speed out of there as fast as I could.

As I drove off my mind was racing.   I blamed myself.  How could I have driven over there without telling anyone where I was going?  I always text my husband the address if I am picking up anything on Craigslist but this time I had not.  And why was I so open with people.  Before things got fishy at Eric’s I had told him we were opening a coffee shop soon and even gave him my business card.  Now this freak knows where I’ll be working.  I am always going to be on edge at work wondering if he will come in or be hanging out in the parking lot for me.

I used to be very trusting but this experience made me realize it’s important to keep my guard up.  It may seem like I was freaking out for no reason but I promise this was a summary of the experience.  There were many things that were strange I haven’t explained.  And also two things that still plague my thoughts.  For one, the electric keyboard was probably not that lightweight but I know my husband could have moved it by himself. And Eric was much bigger and younger than my husband. In fact, I could have probably easily moved it by myself. And two: Right before I left, Eric accidentally hit his shorts pocket and the garage door starting shutting.  That meant he had his garage door remote in his pocket further solidifying my worries that he could shut the garage door quickly when I was inside if he wanted.

Who knows what is really going on with Eric.  Maybe he really was a trustworthy, yet weird person.  Carrie wondered if perhaps he was “high” which definitely could explain his behavior as well.  Maybe he was smoking pot and not a threat?  I will never know and pray others don’t either.  I looked up his address on the criminal search site Family Watch Dog but could not find anything.

The moral of this story?  Please be careful if you shop on Craigslist.  If you go anywhere, try to take a friend, especially a man if possible.  If for any reason you go alone, make sure you stay outside.  Do not go in their house or garage.  And most of all let others know where you are going. Give them the exact location and perhaps even stay on the phone with them until you leave the seller’s house.

This might seem overkill but better safe than sorry.  There are some crazy people in this world folks.  An antique table isn’t worth your life.


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7 Responses to “Craigslist Heebie Jeebies”

  1. Jess "Klutzy Chef" March 22, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Love your blog and I don’t comment often, but this story really grabbed my attention. I am a Craigslist junkie and this story made my hair stand on end. My husband often times insists on joining me, which I appreciate, but that’s not always realistic. What I have gotten into the habit of doing though is a fair bit of research before I commit to the item. A few Google searches and one on LinkedIn generally gives me a good idea of what to expect when I arrive (we also live in Boston were it’s relatively easy to check land records to see renter v. owner–overkill I know, but I figure it’s 10 minutes well spent). I hope that this guy was, in fact, just a bit weird and not someone with bad intentions–to be on the safe side though, perhaps it’s worth contacting Craigslist to report the activity?

    You were completely right to go with your gut. There was something absolutely not right about that situation and I’m glad you walked away.

    • Angie & Carrie March 22, 2012 at 7:47 am #

      Jess, thanks for commenting and the advice. I never thought of notifying Craigslist and think I’ll do that. I was planning to call the police but then hesitated thinking it was an extreme measure, especially if he was only weird. How do you do searches on LinkedIn and Google? By address? Carrie called me a few months ago worried she shouldn’t go inside a business that was selling something she wanted on craigslist. I really thought it was a little silly and of course there should be no harm going into a public place. But the truth of the matter, is horrible things happen everywhere, especially behind closed doors. It’s always better safe than sorry! It’s a scary world. :(

      • Jess "Klutzy Chef" March 22, 2012 at 8:51 am #

        I only search for thing by owner. Normally once someone responds by email, I have access to their full name (I don’t respond to the phone only posts) that I plug into Facebook and LinkedIn, and do a quick Google Search. If the email comes back some weird mix of letters and numbers and doesn’t have a name attached to it, my correspondence ends there. But, I would say 7 out of the 10 times, something comes up. Even searching on the email address and street address alone can sometimes bring up interesting results. If I can’t find any information at all based on that information, I make a judgement call about how the person communicates–is there a mention of working a schedule around kids or something that makes them sound like an overall functioning and non-delinquent member of society? Also, using Google maps and doing a Google street view can give you a good sense of the neighborhood and building. I’ve walked away from purchases because the area just didn’t look like a place I’d want to be going on my own (or worse like a place that might bring unwanted guests into my home–bed bugs freak me OUT). Generally, if the post is by owner, in an area that I know relatively well and the price is reasonable (i.e. 40-50% or less than what they paid retail) I respond. These are generally people looking to just do a little cleaning up and recoup a fair amount of money for a used item and, in my experience, are just people that use Craigslist in the same way I do.

        The experience you had was terrible and like I said I think you were very right in thinking something was really wrong, but don’t forget about all the wonderful experiences you’ve had–don’t let Eric and creeps like him ruin something for you.

  2. Amanda March 22, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    ALWAYS trust your instincts. I think you were spot on with this. I’d almost go so far as forwarding your blog with additional comments to the police department closest to him. He didn’t technically do anything wrong, but I’m sure having Eric on their radar wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    I’m glad you’re safe!

  3. S March 22, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Wow I don’t usually comment on blogs, but I am so glad you got out of there safe. A woman’s got to trust her gut, and you are right…Craigslist transactions are quick and easy, I would say he was up to something. I’d notify Craigslist (though I doubt they would do anything) and your local police. My husband always insists on either coming with me or making sure he’s home when I do CL transactions, but this is making me wonder whether it’s worth it at all! Thank you for sharing this story.

  4. Angie & Carrie March 22, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    So thankful you are SAFE!!!! Your story scared me and only confirmed…Craigslist is not worth it!! Love you!!!!

  5. ginny March 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I am so glad you are okay, Angie. This is all hindsight for you I know..but I always tell the people to meet me at a public place where there is a lot of traffic. This might seem too much for you, but I also have my concealed handgun license for situations such as these. So glad you are okay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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