Robbery Victim, Suspect Meet on Craigslist -- Twice

Man was already one of "Arlington's most wanted"

By Scott Gordon
|  Saturday, Dec 10, 2011  |  Updated 12:00 AM CDT
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An Arlington man who was robbed trying to sell a cellphone set up his own sting operation after seeing his stolen phone for sale on Craigslist.

Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

An Arlington man who was robbed trying to sell a cellphone set up his own sting operation after seeing his stolen phone for sale on Craigslist.

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An Arlington man who was robbed trying to sell a cellphone tracked down the suspect the same way they met hours earlier -- on the popular website Craigslist.

Ment Mengistu said his adventure started when he drove to a North Arlington apartment complex Tuesday to meet a prospective buyer after placing an ad on Craigslist.

"I mean, he sounded like a nice guy," Mengistu said.

Instead, the guy grabbed the phone -- and also an iPad Mengistu was selling -- and ran.

For Mengistu, a University of Texas at Arlington freshman who played four years of high school football, it was like a championship game.

"I just hopped over the fence, and that's when I tackled him," he said.

He got his iPad back, but the man escaped with his phone.

Several hours later, Mengistu found it -- of all places -- for sale on Craigslist. The phone number of the seller matched that of the man who robbed him earlier, he said.

"I was shocked," Mengistu said. "I still couldn't believe it."

He had an idea: He recruited a friend to lure the bandit to a meeting.

"I told her, just pretend like you're buying, and the police will take care of it right after," he said.

The friend set up a meeting with the man at a nearby grocery store.

"We set up our whole game plan," Mengistu said.

But he said his plan hit a hurdle when he called police.

"When I got there and called the police, they didn't take it serious," he said. "They're like, 'First, you're not supposed to be doing this. This is police work or detective work."

Dispatchers did end up sending officers, who arrested Edward Washington after a short foot chase, police said.

Mengistu was there as officers handcuffed Washington and put him in a patrol car.

"I knew right away, that's him," Mengistu said. "That's definitely him. That's exactly him."

It turns out Washington, 17, was already wanted in a previous robbery and was one of Arlington's "most wanted," police said.

"It felt pretty good. I felt like justice was served," Mengistu said. "I'm still shocked all this happened in one day. I would have never predicted it was going to end like this."

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