BOISE -- Two men suspected of robbing a man at gunpoint in Boise last week were caught Thursday night because they tried the same scheme on Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, according to police.
Boise Police say the robbers pretend to be selling computers on Craigslist, and when the would-be customer arrives for a sale, the men rob them.
Raney said he was off-duty and just looking to buy an Apple laptop for a good deal, but said he ended up stumbling upon two men who he says would have robbed him.
"In all of the ads just in Boise out there in Craigslist, this is a popular item," Raney said. "There had to be a lot of responses, and for them to have that great luck to pick the sheriff to try to scam and try to rob, I think, good for them because they're going to be in jail a while."
Twenty-year-old Dominic Hinton of Boise and 19-year-old Roman Nazarko of Caldwell are charged with felony robbery and other crimes.
Sheriff spotted danger, called police
Raney says he saw the computer listing on Craigslist and agreed to meet the seller near a gated subdivision in Garden City. As he got close to the neighborhood, the supposed seller tried to change plans over the phone.
"As I got near the area, the caller told me to pull off onto the side of the road into the parking lot of some businesses that were dark and nobody was around," Raney said.
The sheriff says that was a warning sign and he became suspicious, eventually calling Garden City Police for help.
"I called Garden City Police and talked to Sergeant Little there and said, 'I think this is a robbery that's going to happen, so you come in from that side and I'll come in from this side and let's see what happens.'"
After spotting the men and a brief chase, the sergeant and the sheriff were able to arrest the two robbers.
"In this case, I'm thankful that it was me, that I was prepared to react, that I used good common sense, but it could have been somebody innocent there that could have been hurt, but [the suspects are] in jail, and that's where they ought to be," Raney said.
A strange coincidence, to say the least
The irony of the situation isn't lost on Raney who laughs at the strange coincidence.
"I think it's hilarious," Raney said. "I kept myself safe the whole time. I was never in danger. I was smart enough to do that. And they went away [to jail]. The only thing better than laughing at arresting criminals is laughing at arresting dumb criminals."
Raney says he hopes by sharing his story others will be careful if something doesn't seem right. He's also glad he was the one meeting the criminals last night instead of someone who may have fallen prey.
Police still searching for more suspects
Police say these two men were also involved in an armed robbery in Boise last week where a Nampa man reported he was robbed at gunpoint when he showed up to buy an iPad near Lake Harbor Lane and State Street. Boise Police are still looking for additional suspects in that case.
Anyone with any information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS.
Boise Police suggest the following for safety when buying items over Craigslist or other Internet classified sites:
* Bring another person along when buying from an unknown seller.
* Meet in a brightly lit, crowded public place for smaller items.
* Unless absolutely necessary, do not agree to meet the seller at your home or their home.
* Keep records of the sellers name, phone number, and e-mail address.
"I hope that by me being involved in this that I've prevented somebody from being victimized, maybe hurt, maybe even worse last night," Raney said.