Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/25/craigslist_looters/

Oregon man stripped by Craigslist looters

Fake ads provoke giveaway stampede

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 25th March 2008 12:10 GMT

An Oregon man is attempting to regain possession of his worldly goods after fake Craigslist ads provoked a stampede of looters who stripped his property of pretty much eveything that wasn't nailed down, local news channel Kgw.com reports.

According to Jackson County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan, the fake adverts popped up on Saturday claiming Robert Salisbury of Jacksonville "was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking".

The first "independent contractor" Jackson knew of it was when he got a call while at nearby Emigrant Lake from "a woman who had stopped by his house to claim his horse".

Salisbury quickly headed for home, but interrupted his journey to stop a truck "loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater". He recounted: "I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back. They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."

The driver duly "rebuked" Salisbury and drove off with his booty - just some of the items the poor chap spotted packed into cars leaving the scene of the looting where he discovered "30 people rummaging through his barn and front porch".

Once again, Salisbury's protests met with a defensory waving of printouts of the Craigslist adverts. He said: "They honestly thought that because it appeared on the internet it was true. It boggles the mind."

Cue the arrival of Jacksonville police and Jackson County sheriff's deputies, albeit it too late to stop much of the net-provoked piracy. However, Salisbury provided cops with a few licence plate numbers, and by Monday "some people who learned of the hoax began to return items taken from the home".

Michelle Easley, the horse-rustler whose call alerted Salisbury to the free-for-all, explained she'd "seen the ad that claimed Salisbury's horse had been declared abandoned by the sheriff's department and was free to a good home".

She elaborated: "I can't stand to see a horse suffer so I drove out there and got her. The horse didn't look abandoned. She is in good shape for being 32 years old."

Easley admitted the whole thing "looked odd", so she "left a note on Salisbury's door explaining the ad", then "decided to call to make sure the ad was legitimate".

While detectives have contacted Craigslist's legal team to try to trace the ad, officers were earlier this week "still contacting people who were seen leaving Salisbury's house with his stuff". Sgt. Fagan explained that they could return looted items "no questions asked", but if they decided to hang onto their ill-gotten gains, they "may face charges". ®