Niagara Gazette

December 7, 2013

COPS NOTEBOOK: A holiday tale of woe

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — In the spirit of the holiday season, allow me to offer some reminders when it comes to both buying and selling potential presents.

First, if you’re looking to score some quick cash by unloading your unwanted (or obsolete) electronics, take them to a reputable re-seller. Heck, take ‘em to the local pawn shop or buy and sell.

Never, though, rely on a friend of a friend who knows someone, sort of, who might want your stuff. As a 45-year-old Falls man learned this week, that usually ends up badly.

In this case, our erstwhile seller wanted to peddle his HP 6000 laptop on Craigslist. But his friend (whose last name he doesn’t know, must be a really close friend) told him he had another friend that would buy the “‘puter.”

First sign that this was sketchy? The sale was set to go down on a street corner. 

Oh yeah, and not just any corner. How about the corner of 18th Street and Niagara Avenue (didn’t know that was part of the downtown shopping district).

In any event, our seller and his bud drive down to the corner of 18th and Niagara Avenue at 1:54 a.m. Monday (prime time to sell merchandise, ask any retailer). When they arrived on the corner, the prospective buyer, clad in a hoodie and felony flyers, moseyed up to the window of the car

The suspect, I mean potential buyer, then reached through the car window and grabbed the computer off the seller’s lap. With the computer in his hands, the man we’ll now call a thief proceeded to run north toward Ontario Avenue.

Apparently shocked and dismayed by this disturbing turn of events, our seller’s first-name-only friend bolted from the car to give chase. A short time later, the friend texted the seller the following message: “I’m holding him down. Call the police.”

The friend, however, failed to provide the seller with the location where he was holding the thief down. The seller tried to call his friend to learn where he was, but alas, the friend did not answer the calls.

I guess he was too busy holding down a fleeing thief and texting at the same time, to actually answer a call. 

So please learn from this man’s misfortune and avoid midnight, street corner sales. Also, don’t buy computers on street corners or out of the trunks of cars at this time of year.

You’ll likely find, after you’ve parted with your cash, that the weight you feel in that computer box is nothing more than rags or newspapers. 

Shop smart and have a very happy holiday.

Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2252.