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Police: suspects respond to Facebook ads, steal and assault victims

ALBANY -- Police are warning the public to exercise caution when posting to sites used to buy and sell property like Craigslist and Facebook.

The warning comes after authorities say two people who posted phones for sale on Facebook were victims of crimes. The two men, 19 and 20 years old, were attacked in separate incidents.

The first happened on Monday night near Central Avenue and Lexington Avenue where the victim says he was assaulted by someone who had arranged to meet him about the phone. The suspect, Ali Thomas, 19, allegedly hit the victim and tried to steal money from his pocket. Police located Thomas nearby and he was taken into custody.

The second incident happened on Friday near Lark Street and Sheridan Avenue. Authorities say the suspect had what appeared to be a handgun, and took off with the victim's cell phone.

Police are still searching for the suspect in that case. He is described as a black male, 6 feet tall, and approximately 25 years old.

Officials say there are steps you can take to protect yourself from being a victim of this kind of crime:
  • Check the buyer/sellers profile after the meeting arrangements have been made. If the profile no longer exists, dont do business with them.
  • If the buyer/seller suddenly changes the meeting place that was originally agreed upon, dont do business with them.
  • Always meet the buyer or seller in a public place where there are plenty of people. Never agree to meet on a side street or a place that is not well lit.
  • Always take someone with you to the meeting place and let the buyer or seller know your plans. If you decide to go alone, advise someone of your location and return time prior to the meeting taking place.
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