Woman finds her stolen guitar for sale online

Police say more theft victims finding items online

INDIANAPOLIS - A northwest Indianapolis woman tried her own online detective work, giving police a solid lead after her home was burglarized.

Among the items stolen from the home, in a neighborhood near West 56th Street and Georgetown Road, was a Yamaha F315A acoustic guitar.

The victim told police she logged online to search for her guitar, and she immediately recognized it for sale in one posting. She recognized a patch on the lower half of the instrument from a popular movie about The Beatles.

Included in the listing for sale were the guitar case, the picks and the music books that were stolen from her home.

A search warrant obtained by police was filed last week, showing that Craigslist has turned over to detectives all information about the person who posted that ad.

Craigslist typically requires an email address, and also maintains the Internet Protocol address of the computer that was used to post all ads on its site. In some categories of ads, Craigslist requires phone number verification, which allows police to trace an ad to a person with a particular phone number.

A regular review of police reports in Indianapolis finds that police are now getting similar online help from crime victims several times per week, on average.  In one case last November, police made a quick arrest by logging onto Craigslist after a series of car break-ins at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. 

Last month, the Call 6 Investigators reported on a local Freon business that suspected scammers selling licensed Freon tanks online. Police obtained a search warrant in that case as well, in an attempt to track down the person who was selling the illegally purchased tanks.

Court documents in Indianapolis and in Hamilton County reveal similar cases in recent months, with burglary and other crime victims reporting to police that they found the stolen goods for sale online.

In this latest northwest side break-in, police will be able to couple a witness description of the burglar with the data provided by Craigslist. A neighbor told police he heard smashing glass at the woman’s house and then spotted a man with red and black sneakers running from the home with items in his hands.

If his description of the burglar matches the person who is responsible for posting the Craigslist ad, police and prosecutors will have a better chance of convicting him in court.

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