Richland man uses Craigslist to find his stolen property - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Richland man uses Craigslist to find his stolen property

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- For many people, "Buyer Beware" is a creed to live by when browsing on Craigslist, but the popular want ad website recently helped a Richland man recover his stolen lawn mowing equipment.

Craigslist is a mixed bag when it comes to stolen property. It's become a sort of unregulated pawn shop where stolen items can be sold, but it's also a place where those items can be tracked down.

The website helped a Richland man recover his equipment when he used Craigslist to post the property as missing and someone responded with its location.

Don Lalka was shocked when he stepped outside his house Friday morning and saw his truck and landscaping equipment gone. His car's business sign was all that was left in his driveway.

"Feel empty. Everything just kind of draws out of your body and you just feel like an empty shell because someone stole your life. This is my life and they just took it form me," says Lalka.

That's when Don went on Craigslist to post his equipment as stolen and asked buyers to alert him if they saw it.

His truck was found in North Pasco by someone who called the police, but his trailer was found in West Pasco by a woman who saw his Craigslist post. Now he has his equipment back.

"Oh that was a big relief because I was thinking of the dollar signs involved to replace everything and the time involved with dealing with the insurance companies. I was so relieved,"says Lalka.

Richland Police say they use the website as a resource to find stolen items.

"Somebody in the police department, one of the investigators, detectives, street crimes, patrol, you're talking almost sixty people at one point or another, one of them would probably be on there just about once a day during business hours," says Captain Mike Cobb, Richland Police.

Using Craigslist worked in Don's situation, but it has its challenges.

"The officers do routinely check it but the follow up gets really complex. How do you arrange for a meet? How many undercover assets are you going to need? Is the stuff really stolen? Because until you put your hands on it and verify serial numbers you really don't know," says Cobb.

No matter how Craigslist is used, Don is hooked.

"I love it. As a matter of fact, I'm on Craigslist right now looking for a truck," says Lalka.