Los Angeles police today announced the arrests of two men suspected of robbing victims who had posted massage-services advertisements on Craigslist. Cops say one of the two would pose as a customer, arrive at the business location -- in both cases, the victims' homes -- hold each victim at gunpoint and invite his accomplice in.
The duo, police allege, tied up one victim in one case by using the massage therapist's own sheets. In a second case the robbers made three victims kneel and then covered them with sheets as the suspects searched for goods, investigators say.
The pair allegedly ransacked each residence, making off with cash, laptops and flat-screen televisions. An investigation led detectives to arrest parolees Pierre Morris, a 24-year-old from Chatsworth, and Aaron O'Connor, a 22-year-old from Los Angeles. They were booked on suspicion of robbery. Goods from the capers were not recovered, however, police say.
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The first robbery, involving one victim, was reported Sept. 28 at a residence in the 800 block of North Sycamore Avenue in Hollywood. The second, involving three victims, was reported Oct. 2 in the 700 block of North Ardmore Avenue in Hollywood.
The robberies are part of a wave of alleged crimes targeting those who list massage and "erotic services" on the website. Complaints about rampant prostitution and victimization of those who advertise their "erotic services" for free on the site led Craigslist to shut down that section. But a new, for-pay adult services area offers the same kind of exchanges.
The alleged "Craigslist killer" in the Boston area, Philip Markoff, is suspected to have used the site to hook up with at least one erotic masseuse, possibly more. Authorities accuse him of robbing and then killing model Julissa Brisman in spring.
Investigators think the L.A. suspects might have pulled other robberies via Craigslist -- with victims who might have been too scared to report any alleged crimes. If the M.O.s in the Hollywood cases ring any bells, police are asking any other possible victims or witnesses to give them a call, either on-the-record or anonymously at 213-922-8266 or 213-922-8217; or 24-hours, toll-free, at 1-877-527-3247.