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Couple beaten, robbed trying to buy cell phone on Craigslist

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- St. Clair County Sheriff, Rick Watson, warned people about making deals on Craiglist, after he said a woman was beaten with a gun, while she and her boyfriend were robbed in Belleville last month.

They thought they were meeting someone to buy a cell phone.

Authorities have just issued charges against two suspects.

Trevon Yates, 17, is in the St. Clair County jail, charged with armed robbery; his bail set at $500,000.

A 16 year old is also in juvenile custody.  Authorities have not released his name.

Watson said the couple could have been shot.

Fox 2 set up a random meeting with someone selling cell phones on Craigslist, taking the sheriff’s advice to play it safe.

One thing about the seller stood out, he was as concerned about safety as any buyer would be.

“What I recommend is, is that since it’s a Sprint phone, I can meet you at a Sprint store, we can just do the exchange there.  It’s safety for you and me both,” said Dustin Clary, who runs a cell phone repair/resale business called PhoneRehab on Craigslist and Facebook.

The Fox 2 crew identified themselves before actually meeting Clary in person.

Authorities say it was much different with Yates and the juvenile suspect:  a woman from New Baden and her boyfriend met them at night in an apartment complex in the 200 block of Bradford Place near Southwestern Illinois College.

Authorities doubt there was ever going to be a phone sale, saying the suspects ambushed the couple, stealing $275 dollars and the boyfriend’s cell phone;  the suspects’ insisting the couple only correspond via text.

Clary said that account was full of “red flags”.

“I would never be in that situation,” he said.  “Texting can really be a dangerous thing because you really don’t know who you’re talking to.  You can get a better judge of character talking to somebody on the phone.  You can hear how they talk and make sure they’re not telling lies or anything like that.”

Yates’ bail is set at a half-million dollars.   Authorities are not releasing the name of the other suspect, who is in juvenile custody.

He adds this bit of advice – if you meet a buyer or seller and something doesn’t feel right, don’t hang around – just leave.  He’s had to do it, himself.


Email: Andy.Banker@tvstl.com

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