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Safety precautions when using Craigslist

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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) -

The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says 25-year-old William Apps, of Beaufort, was murdered after meeting two men to sell his truck. He posted the vehicle for sale on Craigslist.

Apps seemed to have taken safe steps, initially. Charleston County deputies say Apps met the two men at Hardees in Downtown Charleston, accompanied by his mother.

Deputies say Apps mother eventually went home because she didn't think the sale was going to happen. Shortly after, Apps left the busy parking lot with the men.

Charleston Police say they're hoping people will start to take these kinds of interactions more seriously and play it really safe when meeting strangers for classified ads.

All it takes is a few clicks, and you could be setting yourself up for a bad situation.

With more than 100 million ads posted to Craigslist every month, the online marketplace can save you big bucks, but could cost you your safety.

Charleston Police say people are falling into suspicious interactions more and more.

Crime Prevention Officer Harry Sosa says there are precautions you can take to ensure that the buying and selling doesn't go sour.

Before you meet in person, get the buyer or sellers name. Ask them for a specific form of identification like a driver's license.

"Do it in the very beginning. They're going to know who you are, so, you might as well ask them who they are," said Officer Sosa.

Also, always have someone come with you.

If they drive with you, Officer Sosa suggests you have them stand a couple of feet away.

"If something were to happen to you, that other person could run or call police, and still be far enough away to be safe and deal with it," said Officer Sosa.
 
If you're doing a car sale, have a friend or family member drive separately.

"Obviously, they're going to do a test drive. So, you might want to have that person following the car," said Officer Sosa.

Where you meet can make a big difference and the best place might not be where you think.

"Parking lots are fairly large and you can disappear in a parking lot and not be visible. So, I always recommend something smaller like the police station parking lot," said Officer Sosa.

When in doubt, trust your instincts and call your local law enforcement.

"The worst that can happen is that you're wrong, so what? If you're right, you just saved yourself time, energy, money - you name it," said Officer Sosa.

Officer Sosa says those rules don't just apply to using Craigslist. You should keep those safety measures in mind during any circumstance when you're meeting strangers to purchase things from classified ads.

October is also National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Websites like www.staysafeonline.org have a ton of resources to keep you and your family safe online and off.

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