HANOVER COUNTY, Va. — A man who was robbed and forced into his trunk while responding to a Craigslist ad was lured to a vacant home in Hanover County, according to testimony during a preliminary hearing.
Detectives said the crime happened in the 15000 block of Taliaferro Lane around 9:15 p.m. on March 17 when the victim went to talk about the sale of a Lexus SUV listed on Craigslist.
Five suspects, 35-year-old Rajit Nash of Richmond, 33-year-old Omar Smith of Richmond, 25-year-old Travion Wright of Richmond, 20-year-old Sydnee Brown of Chesterfield and 38-year-old Bennie Neal of Richmond, were arrested in April.
The suspects were charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, carjacking, and abduction.
Judge Hugh Campbell certified all charges to the grand jury for Nash, Smith, Wright, and Neal in Hanover County General Court, Wednesday morning. Brown’s case was continued.
The victim testified he responded to a Craigslist ad for a Lexus RX 350 listed at $15,000 and was instructed by Sydnee Brown to meet him at an address on Taliaferro Lane.
The victim said Brown instructed him to follow her to the address of the vacant home after he became lost. He testified Nash and Wright robbed him, assaulted him with guns and shoved him in the trunk of his vehicle.
“The victim was able to free himself with a release latch inside the trunk and flee prior to the vehicle driving away. Investigators determined the suspects chose Taliaferro Lane due to it being a remote location,” Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Sgt. James R. Cooper said.
Co-defendant Sydnee Brown testified that she was unaware that the four male suspects were intending to rob the victim. She said the Lexus belonged to Wright, who she was dating at the time.
The suspects are being held at the Pamunkey Regional Jail.
Sheriff’s office officials urged folks who use Craigslist or other online sites to “remain vigilante” and be aware of their surroundings when meeting someone. Authorities offered these tips:
- Insist on a public meeting place like a restaurant, bank, or shopping center.
- Do not meet in a secluded place, or invite strangers into your home.
- Be especially careful buying/selling high value items.
- Tell a friend or family member where you’re going.
- Bring a friend or family member.
- Take your cell phone along if you have one.
- Trust your instincts.