Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Free mowers in Craigslist ad weren't his to give

The advertisement on Craigslist read:

3 free lawn mowers

rider mower

2 push mowers, both work but need blade sharpened

These are old but do work

do not knock on door, wife is sick

First come first take, need gone asap.

It listed the address, on Primrose Lane in Sandalwood Mobile Home Park in Zephyrhills, and said the mowers were on the side of the house.

May be gone throughout the day, these units may be picked up if not home.

Turns out the owner of the mowers — the 70-year-old president of the community's homeowner association — didn't create the ad. He left his home at about 8 on the morning of April 10. When he came home that afternoon, a man got out of a van and asked him where the free mowers were. The man showed him the Craigslist ad. The mowers were already gone.

Authorities say the ad's creator was Craig Stern, 39, a vengeful neighbor who "has been in trouble with the community and has been thrown out of all facilities" in the park, a report states. Stern was arrested Tuesday and charged with grand theft. He was released from the Pasco County jail that same day on $5,000 bail.

This case is similar to one in June, when authorities say a woman offered her neighbor's trailer for free on Craigslist because she wanted his parking spot. She was also arrested.

"We say this time and time again," said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Doll urged people to be cautious when using Internet sites.

"You're dealing with someone out there who may or may not be honest," he said.

On sites where people buy, sell and trade there's little to prevent someone selling or giving away something that isn't theirs — but Doll said Internet ads can be traced. It happened in the case above and another recent one, this time in Holiday.

Authorities say 19-year-old Joshua J. Dexter thought it would be funny to post an ad saying he had a 5-month-old girl for sale. He attached a photo of a friend's baby. Somebody saw the ad and contacted the Sheriff's Office, which tracked the computer's IP address to a home in Holiday Lake Estates. About 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, a deputy knocked on the door and spoke with Dexter.

"I made a joke on Craigslist," Dexter said, according to a report.

He said he didn't think anyone would take it seriously.

Dexter is currently on felony probation for fleeing to elude law enforcement officers without regard, driving with a suspended or revoked license and having an improper tag, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. He was not arrested because of the baby hoax.

"There was no baby. There was no victim," Doll said. "It was just the poor choice of a person with too much time on his hands."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

Free mowers in Craigslist ad weren't his to give 07/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 9:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies on Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre put Texas ahead 4-3 when he scored after two wild pitches.
  2. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  3. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School


    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon’s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.
  4. Trump: Aircraft carrier a symbol of America's might (w/video)


    NORFOLK, Va. — With praise and a blessing for the military, President Donald Trump helped hand over the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Navy on Saturday and said the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will send a "100,000-ton message to the world" about America's military might when it is ultimately deployed.

    President Donald Trump commissions the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
  5. Kushner discloses additional $10M in assets


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner "inadvertently omitted" more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million from his personal financial disclosure reports, according to revised paperwork released Friday.