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Craigslist sellers robbed at gunpoint in Aurora

8:34 PM, Aug 16, 2011   |    comments
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Aurora Police have linked three of the robberies to 19-year-old Curtis Singleton, who allegedly found all of his victims on Craigslist. Singleton is in jail and police are pursuing leads as they look for other robbers.

Investigators fear they could strike again.

"It's a sellers beware kind of a situation," Aurora Police Det. Bob Friel said. "Your guard should be up. You don't know who you're meeting with and you don't know what their intentions are."

Friel says Aurora Police have been working leads for several months as they investigate a series of armed hold-ups around the city.

"Seven robberies that involved iPhones," Friel said. "We have linked [three of] the robberies to the same suspect."

Singleton is currently being held in the Arapahoe County Jail as he awaits trial on charges including robbery, assault, theft and committing a violent crime with a weapon.

Police say each of Singleton's victims tried selling their iPhones on Craigslist. All three robberies allegedly happened the night of May 20, within two hours of each other.

The first robbery was reported at 7:39 p.m. in the Walgreens parking lot on the 12000 block of East Illif Avenue.

That was followed by a second robbery at 8:07 p.m. in the Kmart parking lot on the 15200 block of East Colfax Avenue.

The third robbery was at 9:41 p.m. in a strip mall on the 15200 block of East 6th Avenue.

Court documents obtained by 9Wants to Know show, in all three robberies, a man matching Singleton's description posed as a "potential buyer" then pulled out a "semi-automatic handgun."

He told one victim, "Don't follow me," as he ran away.

"Would be robbers are using this [the Internet] to maintain their anonymity," Friel said.

Singleton turned down an interview request from 9Wants to Know.

A check of court records showed Singleton previously pleaded guilty to several charges including felony cocaine possession in July, nearly two months after the alleged robberies took place. He received a deferred sentence.

9Wants to Know spoke with three robbery victims, including 19-year-old from Aurora who asked not to be identified.

He says he thought he was doing the right thing by meeting up in a busy Walgreens parking lot.

"There were lots of other people around," the 19-year-old said.

The teen was planning to sell his brand new iPhone for $500. He says Singleton did not appear to be a threat.

"He looked really young," the 19-year-old said. "He was nervous and shaking. I saw the money in his hand so I gave him the phone. Then he started to back away."

The 19-year-old says Singleton pulled out a black and silver handgun and pointed it at him.

He said several customers witnessed the robbery and called 911.

That was the first hold-up on the evening of May 20.

Friel said the victims in the four other robberies, not yet linked to Singleton, met up with the suspect or suspects in more remote locations.

"They chose a secluded area at night," Friel said.

Police say if you're selling anything online, choose a public place like the food court of a mall during the day. Investigators also say that you need to make sure potential buyers have as little information about you as possible.

Friel says investigators are still looking for others who may be involved in the seven Craigslist robberies.

"There's a potential that they could try to carry out the same crime again," Friel said. "You're only one trigger pull away from being seriously hurt or killed."

So far, nobody has been hurt in any of the Aurora robberies.

In 1998, Dave Greene, 51, of Evergreen, was shot and killed after placing a classified ad to sell his 1997 Ford Expedition.

One year later in 1999, Jason Trefny, 23, of Adams County, was murdered after placing a classified ad in the newspaper for music equipment.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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