Massapequa Park, N.Y. (AP) - An $8,000 Facebook Marketplace deal has gone bad on Long Island, with a man who was selling a Rolex watch jumping onto the hood of the thief’s car in a quixotic attempt to keep from being robbed.
"I was not going to roll over and let this man take it ... without a fight," Steve Mauro, the seller, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
"This was supposed to be a quick thing for an extra couple extra bucks," Mauro said. "I never thought in a million years that this would happen."
The 43-year-old had arranged to sell the Rolex, purchased just days prior, on Friday in front of his home in Massapequa Park. A would-be buyer showed up and asked Mauro to approach for the money. But instead of handing over the cash, the thief locked his doors and started speeding away, Nassau County Police said.
Officers coincidentally patrolling the area saw a gray Honda SUV launch into reverse and knock Mauro over. Mauro jumped on the hood, but was thrown off as the driver fled with the luxury watch, police said. Mauro was treated at the scene for minor cuts to his hand, elbow and knee.
Describing himself as a seasoned Facebook Marketplace seller, Mauro said he didn’t expect foul play.
"This guy was asking all the right questions, how did you acquire it, do you have paperwork?"
But when it came time to pay, "Jhon" who was already trying on the watch, asked him to get into the passenger seat and that’s when he took off.
"He sort of grabbed the door, shuts it and puts it in reverse," Mauro said.
Steve believes an officer who was driving by as this all unfolded may have spooked the driver.
"He threw me on the lawn instead of driving a whole lot faster on the street," he said. "I probably would’ve bashed my head on the concrete."
"I can always sniff out a scammer from the very beginning and this guy didn’t come across that way at all," said Mauro, who ran to the nearby officers as soon as he was tossed from the SUV. "I started screaming ‘Go get him, he has my Rolex!’"
But the thief was already gone.
Police who are still looking for the Honda which possibly had Connecticut plates offer advice to anyone using online marketplaces.
"Put yourself in that safe environment, somewhere that’s well lit, be with other people and make sure you know the person that’s coming," said Nassau County police commissioner Patrick Ryder.
While Nassau County doesn’t have any so called "safe zones" buyers or sellers can go to any police precinct.
In Suffolk County, areas outside the Riverhead and Yaphank jails are closely monitored.
As for Steve who managed to hold onto the links and paperwork for the watch, he plans to be a smarter seller.
"I don’t want to be rude and say I don’t trust you, give me the money first, I don’t operate that way but I will going forward," he said.
Police are promising anonymity to anyone who comes forward with information about the theft to Nassau County Crime Stoppers.