The fatal shooting outside of a Smyrna restaurant Monday marked at least the third time in the last week that a crime occurred after a transaction was set up online in the metro Atlanta area.
Last Monday, Atlanta police said Vincente Cruz went missing after meeting someone who responded to a Craigslist to sell his 1989 black Ford F-150. Cruz was last seen at 705 S. Grand Ave., NW in Atlanta on May 1. His vehicle was located at a motel on Peachtree Street on May 2. Police said blood was found inside the vehicle and foul play is suspected.
Anyone with information about Cruz's whereabouts is asked to call (404) 546-4235.
On Saturday, police said a 40-year-old woman was shot after she and her husband agreed to buy purchase a phone that they saw online. The couple agreed to meet three suspects on Woodcrest Walk in DeKalb County. The man grew suspicious of the suspects, who then demanded the couple's phones. One of the suspects pulled a gun and shot the woman.
As of Monday, no suspects had been taken into custody.
On Monday, police said a man agreed to met another man at a Smyrna restaurant parking lot to buy an item he'd seen on Craigslist when gunfire erupted. The would-be seller opened fire and took the victim's cash before leaving in his own vehicle. The victim later died of his injuries.
No arrests have been made, police said.
Police said Monday's shooting happened in broad daylight in a heavily populated area.
Crimes of this nature are nothing new. Two years ago, police said Ronnie Towns killed an elderly couple who drove from Marietta to McCrae, Ga. to buy a 1966 Ford Mustang. A Clark Atlanta University student was killed after answering a Craigslist ad to buy an iPhone.
Authorities warn that online buy-and-sell websites such as Craigslist can often match criminals with victims. Many local police departments are now providing secure places where people can go to complete their online transactions.
Here are some of what local departments have to offer:
Smyrna Police have a program called "Operation Safe Sale" where residents can make transactions in the Departments lobby and request a police officer be present.
Kennesaw Police advise residents to use their lobby or parking lot.
Canton Police said citizens are welcome to use their parking lot which is well lit and has surveillance cameras.
College Park Police said residents are welcome to use their parking lot and they are looking into providing a safe place in their lobby.
Riverdale Police recommend residents use their parking lot.
Morrow Police offer a safe place to meet. Citizens can go inside their building and have an officer present between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Gwinnett County Police said citizens are welcome to use their parking lot or lobby and request an officer be present for the sale.
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