SAVANNAH, GA (September 17, 2015): Detectives of Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department’s Southside Precinct and Criminal Investigations Division made two arrests this week for a recent string of robberies targeting victims attempting to buy or sell items advertised online.

Monday night Ciara Rentz, 20, and Maurice Benton, 19,  were arrested and charged in three of the four incidents. Rentz is charged with two counts of theft by receiving stolen property. Benton is charged with making false statements.

At about 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, a 27-year-old man, arranged a meeting at K-Mart on West Montgomery Cross Road to sell a cellular phone he advertised on Craig’s List. Two  males and a female showed up in a black Toyota Camry. One of the males snatched the phone before the trio fled.

Also, on Monday, just after 3 p.m., a 19-year-old man, arranged to sell his cellular phone outside Savannah Mall on Abercorn Street. A black Toyota Camry arrived with three occupants. A male exited the vehicle to look at the phone. With the device in his possession, the suspect returned the car and drove away.

At about 8:53 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10, at Walgreens on the 11000 block of Abercorn Street, a 22-year-old woman, arranged a meeting to sell a cellular phone she advertised on Craig’s List. A male and female claiming to be buyers arrived in a black Toyota Camry, shoved the victim and snatched her phone before fleeing.

At 10:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 7 in the Oglethorpe Mall parking lot, a couple intended to purchase a cellular phone advertised on Craig’s List. The suspects, who posed as sellers, snatched cash from a female victim’s hand and fled in a black Toyota Camry without returning the phone.

Investigators continue to search for a third suspect possibly linked to this case. He is described as a black male between ages 22-26, with his hair styled in twists and faded on the sides.

SCMPD urges citizens to make safety the highest priority when buying and selling goods advertised online. The public is reminded of the following safety tips:

  • Utilize police precincts as meeting places.
  • Avoid meeting to buy or sell items alone.
  • Always advise a friend or loved one of your plans to buy or sell items.
  • Arrive early and position yourself to observe and evaluate your surroundings and individuals you are scheduled to meet. If something makes you uneasy, leave immediately.
  • Buyers and sellers always should meet in public highly populated places during daylight or business hours.
  • Always take a working cellular phone to alert police of emergencies.
  • Never invite strangers into your home and avoid entering their residences.
  • Avoid posting personal information online.
  • Have several adults present when selling heavy items that are difficult to remove from your home.
  • Keep valuables out of view.
  • Be leery of purchasers attempting to use cashier’s check from out-of-state or outside of the country. These may be counterfeit.

Anyone with additional information on these recent cases should call Crimestoppers at (912) 234-2020 or text CRIMES (274637) using the keyword CSTOP2020. Tipsters remain anonymous and may qualify for a cash reward.

A confidential tip line also is open directly to investigators at (912) 525-3124.