Craigslist car seller robbed by buyer during encounter in Minneapolis

A Metro area man trying to sell his car on Craigslist has a warning for others after the alleged buyer stole the vehicle during a brazen encounter in Minneapolis.

The 25-year-old man said he doesn't want his name used, but did speak with FOX 9 over the phone on Monday.         

All of this started when he tried to sell his BMW 5-series on Craigslist. When he went to meet with the interested party, he claims he ended up getting maced, and had his car stolen.

The deal was to go down on 28th and Ewing Ave S, with the victim meeting the suspect to discuss the car that was on sale for $10,500. According to the seller, he was showing the interested party the engine when he dropped the hood cover and the supposed buyer then sprayed him in the face with either mace or pepper spray. The suspect would quickly jump in the car and drive off.        

Not only did the seller lose his BMW, but he required medical attention because of the chemical irritants.

"It probably was not the first time. He came prepared with pepper spray or something in his pocket. That's where his hands were and that's the last thing I saw before my eyes started burning up," the victim said.

After reporting the incident to police, the car owner went right back to Craigslist, warning others to be aware of the suspect he knows only as "James."         

With more than a dozen photos of the car attached, he writes in an online post, "Do not buy this car as it was stolen from me, please if you see it, alert the authorities immediately." The victim is offering a $500 reward for an arrest.

This isn’t the first Craigslist car deal to turn violent in the metro. In 2010, Loua “Ty” Lor tried selling a souped-up sports car on Craigslist when he was shot and killed in Lake Elmo during a supposed test drive. The gunman wanted car parts.

In the years that followed, law enforcement would open what they call safe “swap spots” for exchanges arranged online at sites like Craigslist. The Hennepin County Sheriff's office has one in Brooklyn Park at its enforcement services division.      

The owner of the BMW wants to use the frightening episode as a teachable moment for others.

"My best advice is to not show the car on somebody else's terms,” he said. "Meet in a public place. Like a police station so you don't get assaulted. You don't want what happened to me to happen."

The victim explained that he wanted to protect other members of the Craigslist community, so that's why he posted his updated ad about the stolen car. He also thought the crook seemed well polished, making it look like he lived in a nice home in the Minneapolis neighborhood where the two met on the night of Jan. 14.

The victim said police have no leads at this time.