WEST VALLEY CITY — An online classified advertisement for a laptop computer led to a man being robbed at gunpoint Friday.
Blake Thurgood said he frequently purchases items for sale online from strangers and has never had a problem before. After responding to an advertisement on KSL.com, and spending a day haggling over price, Thurgood arrived outside an apartment complex at 3800 South and Redwood Road to complete the transaction, but the seller instead took $1,500 in cash before fleeing the scene in a vehicle.
"It was the last thing I was expecting," Thurgood said. "In the middle of broad daylight, I just didn't expect someone to pull a gun on me."
Thurgood said he had suspicions about the sale, but the seller explained that he had lost his receipt for the laptop and could only get store credit when he tried to return it. The seller also portrayed himself as being nervous about being robbed, Thurgood said. He asked Thurgood to have the cash in hand when he arrived because he had heard stories of people posing as buyers and running off with the items.
"He had an excuse for everything," Thurgood said. "He gave me the impression that he was uneasy. He wanted to meet in a public place."
Thurgood said he took precautions like backing his car into an open parking stall where he could get away quickly. When the man arrived to make the exchange, he was carrying a laptop bag and they chatted for a few minutes, which put Thurgood at ease.
"I put the car in park because I felt comfortable at that point that he had a computer and that it was a real deal," he said.
He said the man reached into his bag, pulled out a gun and put it to Thurgood's temple, demanding the money. Thurgood said he reacted instinctively and tried to drive away, but the man jumped up onto the running board and reached into the car.
The man was able to grab the money, Thurgood said, and quickly ran away. Thurgood said he jumped out of the car and ran after him, but the man quickly entered another vehicle that was waiting for him before driving off.
"I should've never chased after him," Thurgood said. "I should've been thinking about my wife and three kids, but I wasn't. I was more worried about stopping this guy."
Thurgood said the vehicle's license plate was covered with a piece of black cloth. He also said he tried calling the phone number he had been texting, but only got an automated message referring to a phone-number generating program.
He said he was told by police that similar incidents have been reported in the area. West Valley police confirmed that they are investigating the incident, but a spokesman could not be reached Saturday to comment further on the case.
Thurgood said he's happy things didn't turn out worse.
"Fifteen hundred dollars is a lot of money for a lot of people, but it's definitely not worth dying over," he said. "I could've easily been killed. The gun, he pointed it right at my head."