There was a bizarre Craigslist kidnapping and attempted robbery that began in Ocean Beach on Wednesday, January 16th, and ended up – well – for the would-be robber -he ended up empty-handed, and the victim unharmed. All the local corporate media reported on the incident, which not only seemed very strange but also slightly contradictory.
It all started when the victim – an unidentified man – responded to a Craigslist ad for a camera lens. Media reports – ostensibly based on the official police report – have the victim meeting the other person with the ad in a hotel room on the 5000 block of Narragansett Avenue near Bacon around 2 pm on Wednesday. Yet there aren’t any hotels on Narragansett – there is a long-time Bed and Breakfast however.
At any rate, once in the room, the victim has a gun pointed at him and is forced into his car and is forced to drive to his bank in La Jolla. This is where the kidnapping allegation comes into play. It is illegal – naturally – to hold someone against their will.
Once either inside the bank or outside in its drive-through lane, the would-be robber decides the transaction is taking too long and forces the victim to drive away, without any cash. The suspect leaves the victim unharmed, but leaves empty-handed.
Media reports don’t make it clear if the two had gone into the bank or stayed in the car in the outside teller lane, which makes more sense. And its’ not really clear if the transaction had actually started. Fox 5‘s report was typical:
The victim drove the suspect to a bank, but the teller line was too long, so the suspect told the victim to drive away before the suspect could get any money.
This version makes it sound as if the victim and kidnapper were outside. Likewise at Channel 6, the report said:
However, police say the robber felt the transaction was taking too long so he ordered the victim to drive away and then fled without getting any cash.
But another version suggests they were inside; the U-T :
A man was kidnapped at gunpoint Wednesday in Ocean Beach after responding to a Craigslist ad and forced to drive to his bank, San Diego police said. The victim was later told to leave the bank when the suspect felt it was taking too long to get the money, ….
The Associated Press has it:
… a gunman kidnapped him and forced him to drive to his bank to take out some money. However, police say the robber felt the transaction was taking too long so he ordered the victim to drive away and then fled without getting any cash.
Once they arrived at the bank, the suspect decided the bank was taking too long to get the money, so he ordered the victim to drive away.
Yet, this is all just so much quibbling over some details. As the suspect is still at large, and is described as in his mid-20s, 6 feet tall, with thin build and on the day of the incident, was wearing a hoodie.
In all the local media reports, it is only NBC that gave some other Craigslist horror stories.
Just last month, a local couple was shot during a meeting with a would-be buyer who had responded to their Craigslist ad. In that case, the couple met the buyer in a parking lot. The buyer allegedly hopped into the couple’s car and pulled a gun on them. Both victims were shot, but survived their wounds.
And there was the deadly Craigslist crime in Paradise Hills of 2011. Just last November, 3 young men were convicted of the death of Garrett Berki of Pacific Beach. They had advertised a laptop computer, lured Berki, robbed him and drove away. Berki, tragically, chased after them in his car and they shot him dead.
This is in sharp contrast – but goes without mention at NBC or anywhere else – to the hundreds, probably thousands, of successful local Craigslist transactions that go on without problems. One should never park their common sense in the back lot, however. Make the transactions in public areas – not late at time, for instance, and always remain vigilant to weird emails in response to an ad.
It was a weird incident, though, last Wednesday. But it began in OB. Figures.