Thief steals car during Craigslist transaction

HOUSTON - A Houston man who tried to sell his car on Craigslist became a victim of a crime and is now out of a car and out of money.

Johnny Chatman said that a man posing as a prospective buyer drove off in his vehicle after pretending that he was interested in purchasing it.

It happened a week before Thanksgiving in the parking lot of Dillard's across from The Galleria, where Chatman arranged to meet the man who responded to the ad on Craigslist.

"It's a public place and well lit," said Chatman. "I didn't think anything of it."

He said the man inspected the car from bumper to bumper and asked about the engine.

Chatman said he made a mistake by leaving the keys in the car's ignition.

"All of a sudden, he just pushed me and I lost my balance," said Chatman. "In a split second, he just jumped in the car and drove off."

Chatman was shaken but not hurt in the incident.

One day, Chatman said he sent a text to the thief's phone number and was surprised to get a response.

"He apologized for taking my car and said, 'My family's doing really bad and I really needed the money.' He told me he would return the car, but he wanted the rims," Chatman said.

That was last week and the car hasn't been recovered.

While embarrassed, Chatman said he is telling his story because he knows many people, just like him, will use Craiglist to sell items and meet with strangers to make a transaction.

"If you're going to sell something like a car on Craigslist, bring someone with you. I went by myself, which was a mistake in hindsight," he said.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.