HUBBARD, Ohio (WKBN) – We often hear about Craigslist crimes when someone places an ad on the website and the deal ends with robbery, or even murder.
Over the weekend, the body of a 22-year-old Alliance man who disappeared late last year was found in a man’s Kent apartment. Police traced the suspect, John Fox, through a Craigslist ad.
Then on Friday, a Hubbard man was robbed after he posted an ad on the site. The suspect, Zachary Christopher, 31, of Akron, was arrested just hours after the crime.
Police said after searching Christopher’s home, they found a 9mm handgun, as well as syringes, rolling paper, a burnt spoon, plastic bags and razors. He was charged with aggravated robbery, weapons under disability, possession of drug abuse instruments and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Christopher was booked into the Summit County Jail.
Troy Whetstone’s profession has been made famous by the show “American Pickers.” But Whetstone, 41, does it in real life in Northeast Ohio.
“You can sell it to make money. That’s what I do. I buy everything,” Whetstone said.
He’s been picking for years and is a true expert. But all that experience came back to bite him on Friday when he was robbed during a pick he set up online.
“I had a little gut feeling but I’ve been doing it so long I just didn’t think it was going to happen to me,” Whetstone said.
He had placed an ad on Craigslist for gold jewelry, and was set to meet up with a seller at an antique mall off Interstate 76. But when he got there, the seller texted, saying he was having car trouble and changed the location to somewhere more remote.
There, the seller finally showed up, but without the jewelry they’d discussed.
The seller, later identified as Christopher, asked Whetstone to see the money to make sure it was real.
“I pulled the money out of my pocket and he pulled a gun and put it to my head,” Whetstone said.
At that moment, he realized his instincts had been right.
“I thought I was dead. I really did,” Whetstone said.
It was something his family had worried about for a long time.
“The big thing, me and the wife both said, he’s going to end up dead,” said Whetstone’s father, Bill Barth.
But luckily, he didn’t. He gave the seller cash and watched him run away. Then he called police and Christopher was in custody that night.
Whetstone said he already has had three picks since the robbery.
“When I was little and fell off the bike, you have two things you can do. You can just sit on the ground and cry because you fell or you can get back up. And that’s what I had to do,” Whetstone said.
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said there have been few Craigslist crimes in his jurisdiction, but it’s still something people need to be aware of. He said people can protect themselves by always taking someone with them when they meet up for a deal they have made online.
He said to tell the other party that you take safety seriously and will be bringing a companion. He also said to always let someone else know where you are going and when you should be back.
And most importantly, always meet in a very public place.