UPDATE: The Lonestar Fugitive Task Force has located and arrested the suspect, identified in the arrest warrant as 19-year-old Demani Jontrell Brown. He was booked into the Travis County Jail Tuesday evening, charged with two counts of aggravated robbery. His bond is set at $40,000.
AUSTIN — An arrest warrant has been issued for a man accused of meeting up to buy items from people he contacted on Instagram and robbing them at gunpoint, according to police.
Police said a 19-year-old man, contacted at least two people on Instagram to purchase items they were selling, then met them with a gun and robbed them.
Investigators said the first robbery happened on Dec. 26, 2014 at an apartment complex in Northeast Austin. According to the warrant, the victim told police he had posted shoes for sale on Instagram, when another user contacted him and they agreed to meet. According to the warrant, the man was sitting in the backseat of a car and told the victim to get inside. When he did, the victim told police the man pointed a handgun at him and then hit him twice on the head and face, then took the shoes and the victim’s cell phone. He said the man told him to leave, and the man sped off.
A second arrest warrant states the second robbery happened downtown on Jan. 14. Investigators said a man told police that someone had stolen jewelry from him at gunpoint and ran away. The warrant states the man told police he had advertised a gold necklace for sale on Craigslist, and a man agreed to meet him at a coffee shop. When the victim arrived at the coffee shop, he told police that the man wasn’t there, so he left. Detectives said a man pointed a gun into the victim’s chest and grabbed the jewelry box, then ran away.
The warrant states the man told police he had been communicating with the man over Instagram, but after the robbery, the man had blocked the victim from accessing his Instagram page. The victim later told police he accessed the man’s Instagram account through a friend’s account and saw he had posted two photos of the necklace.
Both victims identified the man in photo lineups, according to police. He is charged with two counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Travis County Jail records show he is not in custody.
Police said cases like this are a reminder to everyone to play it safe when buying or selling online.
“It’s not reported every day, but it’s not very uncommon. I’m sure it happens a lot more than it’s reported,” said APD Detective Steven Nash.
A tragic case in Georgia also made headlines this week, where investigators said a couple tried to buy a vintage car on Craigslist and they vanished. On Tuesday, police found their car submerged in a lake and their bodies nearby.
“I’ve gotten into a few sketchy situations,” said Craigslist user Chase Kettl. “I would definitely not go alone and at least tell someone, ‘Here’s where I’m going. Here’s the address I’m going to.’”
But even Craigslist warns users to be careful on the site.
“It is concerning because you don’t know who they are,” said Craigslist user Aaron Kettl. “I always recommend people to meet up in a parking lot.”
Police said they see cases like these about once every couple weeks. They recommended to avoid putting personal information online while buying or selling and creating a separate email account for online transactions. They also said while meeting someone in person, do it during the day, in a busy area and with other people. Police also said to be aware of buying or selling expensive items like cars, jewelry and designer shoes.