Is Your Stolen Stuff on Craigslist? Here’s What to Do

VIDEO: Portland, Ore. police department shares tips for how to get your stuff back.
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By ABC News’ Dan Lieberman and Lauren Effron:

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being robbed or mugged, there’s good chance you could find your stolen stuff on the popular website Craigslist.com.

Craigslist is an open, relatively unregulated marketplace, and a growing number of stolen items are cropping up for sale there – sometimes posted by the original thief.

The demand for police involvement in recovering stolen goods off Craigslist became so overwhelming in Portland, Ore., that that calls to police were forwarded to the Burglary Taskforce Unit, which handles calls and conducts Craigslist “sting” operations.

From left to right, Det. Jim McCausalan, Sgt. Dan Slauson and Det. Dave Anderson work the phones at the Portland, Ore. police department to set up "buy backs" in Craigslist stings. Credit: ABC News

Since launching the unit, Portland police say their success rate is high — recovering stolen property 8 out of 10 times.

Portland police detectives Dave Anderson and Dan Slauson strongly advise against anyone trying to recover their stolen items themselves without calling the police first and offered these tips:

What to do if you see your stolen stuff on Craigslist:

1. Once your items have been stolen, check Craigslist early and often. Stay on the case. Some items appear with hours, others may take days, months, even years .

2. DO NOT try to buy back your stuff. Involve law enforcement if you think you have found your stolen items on Craigslist.

3. You can ask the seller to send you more photos of the item you suspect is stolen. This can be helpful to law enforcement, but again, DO NOT try to buy back your stuff.

Shown here are photos of a stolen guitar. Credit: ABC News

4. If you have the serial number or your name on the item, that can also be helpful information to law enforcement.

5. Note the date and time the items were posted on Craigslist. If it’s posted within a few hours or within days after being stolen, it’s possible it could be yours.

6. Note the place where the item is being sold and the price.

To protect yourself as a buyer, be leery of:

1. Stock photos on postings rather than actual photos.

2. Seller wants to meet somewhere away from their residence.

3. Poor description on the item.

4.  Over-eager sellers.

5. If telephone numbers are spelled out instead of using digits as a way of hiding the ads.

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