Accused thief nabbed in reverse Craigslist sting in Palm Harbor

PALM HARBOR, Fla (WFLA) – When Jack Price noticed his bike had been swiped from the YMCA where he works out in Palm Harbor on August 2, he initially thought about hunting for the criminal himself.

“I was just going to get the thing… Me and my wife. I’ll just go ride over there and take my bike from him,” said Price. “I’m an old country boy from Boone, West Virginia… We’ve got a little Appalachian justice up there.”

At his wife’s request, Price called and reported the theft to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

While detectives were investigating, so was he.

After a little more than a week, he spotted an ad on Craigslist for a bike that he was sure was his.

“I knew because of this handlebar. I’m 6’2″ and these are usually bent down, and this is almost straight up and down as you can see,” he said, pointing to the handlebars.

Price said there was also a reflector on the bike that he had put there.

Price informed detectives and set up a buy. When undercover officers arrived at 3367 Crystal Ct., they met with 32-year-old Justin Crawford who had the bike for sale.

According to the arrest report, once Crawford took the money, authorities took him into custody. He’s now facing a grand theft charge.

Investigators say Crawford tried pawning the bike before posting it for sale on Craigslist.

The ad read, “Excellent condition, lightly used Trek Verve 2 for sale. Zero rust, Bontrager rims and tires. Perfect road cruiser bike. Asking $175.00. Contact Justin.”

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Corporal Dan DiFrancesco said detectives follow crime trends and they are seeing some thieves using the internet to market their stolen goods.

“It’s not just typical people just bringing things to the pawn shop any more… They’re putting things online,” said DiFrancesco.

He has a warning to any would be criminals who elect to go that route.

“Pinellas deputies are watching.”

Price is pleased to have his bike back, but he wishes he would’ve been able to speak with Crawford prior to his arrest.

“Here’s the kicker. I was in jail 22 years ago. I was in the same place this kid was, believe it or not,” said Price, who now has turned his life around and is a successful business owner.

“I figure, maybe I can talk to him. Maybe I can tell him that this is just the wrong way to go.”

Follow Chip Osowski on Facebook

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