Deputies: 5 teens use Craigslist to lure man for robbery

Aaron Mesmer reports

- Five teenagers face charges after a Criagslist add ened in a robbery and carjacking in Riverview, Hillsborough County deputies said Tuesday.

One of the teen suspects called the number on a Craigslist ad posted by a carpenter offering his home repair services. That call, deputies say, was actually trap to lure the victim to a vacant home on Lynmoore Drive in Riverview.

When the carpenter got to the house Sunday, a teenage girl was waiting in the driveway and asked him to go into the house. Detectives said a group of teenagers robbed him of his wallet, cell phone and car keys, before taking off in the victim's car, a Chevrolet Cruze.

The group of suspected criminals, however, had no idea they were being watched and recorded by a neighbor, Michelle Battle.

"[A teenage girl] was between my house and an abandoned house. That's suspicious to me," Battle said. "She was out there for a while and she keeps going to the abandoned house... That's what made me suspicious because that house has been empty for at least five years, so nobody should be at that house."

That's why Battle decided to pull out her cell phone and start recording. Then she saw something else suspicious: a red car pulled up and, after a few minutes, a group of teens jumped into the vehicle and drove away.

But by then, Battle had already called 911.

"I've never witnessed crime like that, so close to my home, ever in my life," she said.

The car was quickly spotted by a responding deputy getting onto Interstate 75, and it eventually became disabled in the Cypress Creek Subdivision.

Three of the five suspects got out of the car and ran. They were all caught and arrested. Detectives immediately asked Battle and the victim to identify the suspects, on the spot.

"They had the detective out there and they would pull one [suspect] up and they would stand them up there and say, 'is this the person? Thumbs up? Thumbs down?'" Battle explained, adding something unexpected happened when she returned home. "I got out of the police car and [my neighbor] and them are cheering, they're like, 'you did a great job, you helped catch a criminal.' And I go, 'you know what? It's sad that I had to, but I'm glad that I did. I'm glad that I got involved and did not just stay in my house and keep my windows shut."

The suspects have been identified as 18-year-old Javier Lopez, 19-year-old Keenard Malik Wells, along with two 16-year-olds and a 15-year-old.

The suspects face a variety of charges. Deputies believe the youngest of the suspects were the ones who conducted the robbery and carjacking. Their charges are more serious.

 App Store Get it on Google Play

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories