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Couple held at gunpoint has warning for Craigslist users

March 01, 2011|By John Paul (jpaul@wsbt.com)

An Elkhart family got more than they bargained for.  They thought they were going to buy a car on Craigslist, instead, they got robbed.

It all happened at a vacant home in the 1300 block of Fremont Street in South Bend. The family told police the thieves threatened them with a gun, took $2,000 dollars in cash, and took off.

It seemed too good to be true. It was a decent car at a price too good to pass up.

"After four days of talking to people and looking at pictures online, I had my heart set on it," said Donna Brooks.

Brooks thought she was getting a real steal, instead she got set up.

"When I walked to the garage and didn't see a car, I turned around a there's a gun in his [Travis'] back. I wanted to pick up my baby girl and run."

Brooks and her boyfriend Travis Cole learned a lot after the robbery Monday afternoon:

"You don't know who to trust," he said. "You don't know who will pull a gun out on you the next time."

On the Craigslist website are suggestions to avoid scams and stay safe. Topping the list -- trust your instincts.

Donna said she never thought anything was wrong when she solicited sellers.

"It is easier if someone comes to me and say I have a car, this is what it is, instead of me, sitting here endless hours clicking next, next, next for a car," said Brooks.

Donna's next mistake: going to the house.
 
Donna, Travis and her 5-year-old daughter Marissa walked to the backyard.
She knew something was wrong.

"I was like please let this be over with," she said. "Take anything. Don't take my life.

"It seemed like it lasted forever," said Cole.

Inside the garage, the couple, even the little girl, were threatened with the gun.

"When they put the bullet in the chamber I got scared," said Brooks.

The men took their cell phones. They took $2,000 in cash Brooks had to buy the car, then the men took off. The family took to the streets for help. Jenny Tafoya helped the family. She called it 'the perfect crime.'

"There's three vacant homes right there. There's nobody to hear anything," she said.

The family is safe, but still shook up.

"I want to be able to sleep at night," said Brooks.

Both Brooks and Cole hope their story stops this from happening again.
Police are looking for two black men. Between the ages of 25 and 30. The gunman had a thin-build. He was last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt.

The other man was described as being taller and heavy-set. He was last seen wearing an orange T-shirt and sweatpants.

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