Fresno police urge caution in online car sales

November 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Buyer beware: that's the message from Fresno Police if you're planning on buying or selling a car on a social networking site.

Sgt. Timothy Teitjen has seen and heard it all when it comes to social media car sales scams.

"We work social media and Craigslist on a daily basis. We're looking for things we know to be stolen or certain individuals that we know will traditionally work Craigslist," Teitjen said.

Teitjen heads up the Fresno Crook Criminal Auto Theft Team, and they're on the lookout for any suspicious activity online.

Just this month a potential Craigslist sale turned into a carjacking ending in a high-speed chase in Central Fresno. Stories like this discouraged Fresno resident Christa Short from using social media to sell her car.

"It's definitely that time of the year where crime goes up and looking to sell a car to somebody you don't know can be a scary process," Short said.

Those concerns drove Christa to take an alternate approach by selling her car to Carmax.

"They turned around a number in about thirty minutes, it was fair and it was easy," Short said.

Using social media to sell your vehicle is more common than you think. Take Twitter for example - if you type in the key words car for sale, the first 2 searches that pop up are of people selling their cars.

So if you decide to sell your vehicle with the help of social media, Sgt. Teitjen has some advice that will help keep you safe.

"Meet in a public place. I wouldn't have them come to your home to sell your car from your house. Have a witness there have them meet at a very public place," Teitjen said.

If you find yourself in a situation where a sale has gone wrong - "it's always better to be a good witness than a good victim. Back away, let them take the keys and let them drive off. It's just property, insurance can pay for it," Teitjen said.

Teitjen says it's better to put your pride aside than become a victim of violent crime.


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