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Same man suspected in string of online classified ad thefts

Posted at 10:06 PM, Nov 29, 2018

HOLLADAY, Utah — Three different police departments are investigating a string of eerily similar classified ad thefts. The victims in each case said they think it's the same person stealing electronics.

They all figured it out, thanks to pictures of the suspect taken through the reflection of a side-view car mirror.

On October 20, the suspect met up in the parking lot of The Stop in North Salt Lake, apparently intending to buy an iPhone X.

Cesar, who wanted to use only his first name, said he posted the phone for sale on the app OfferUp. Cesar said he and the man, who went by the name "John Davis," stood behind Cesar's car to go over the phone.

In the driver seat of the car, Cesar's friend sat, watching through the mirror.

The man pulled out money, looked at the $800 phone, and told Cesar he wanted to buy it.

"I really got confident about [it], that it was a good deal," Cesar said.

His friend, however, later told Cesar that he noticed the man behaving strangely. The friend snapped a couple of quick photos through the side-view mirror just in case.

Just seconds later, Cesar was robbed.

"He just grabbed the phone, and [ran]," he said. The man disappeared into the apartment complex next door.

Cesar decided not to follow, he said, because he worried the man had a weapon or would become violent and dangerous.

He did, however, call North Salt Lake Police and post the two pictures on social media.

A man who described having the same thing happen to him, messaged Cesar after the man's friend saw the photos.

"He was like, 'Yeah that's the guy,'" Cesar said.

The man spoke to Fox 13 and said he was selling a MacBook Pro. He met up with the suspect in Salt Lake City on October 18, two days before Cesar's incident.

The victim said he's 100 percent sure the guy in Cesar's photos is the man who robbed him.

A few weeks later on November 12, Travis — who also wanted to go by only his first name — tried to sell his 2017 MacBook Pro to two men in the parking lot of the Ace Hardware store in Holladay.

"Out of nowhere, they just took it and ran across the street," he recounted. Travis followed the men across the street, but said he realized it wasn't worth his life so he came back to the parking lot and called police.

Travis said he posted an ad explaining what happened, and Cesar reached out and sent the two photos.

"That's the guy," he said, of the man in the photo. The man never gave Travis a name, and he isn't sure who the second person is.

The MacBook Pro was selling for $1,500, and Travis explained that he had planned to use that money for Christmas gifts for his family.

"You get sick, you get a complete sick feeling inside," he said.

He and Cesar now hope to warn others of this man, in hopes that this doesn't keep happening.

"It's a bummer," Cesar said. "It's really [frustrating]."

North Salt Lake Police said they would like to identify the suspect shown in the photos. Anyone with information should call Detective Sergeant Robert Gwynn at 801-335-8600.

Salt Lake City Police is investigating the October 18 incident, which occurred at an Arby's. Unified Police confirmed they are investigating the Holladay case.