Five charged in a series of Craigslist robberies in St. Paul

The Ramsey County attorney’s office wants you to be wary of sketchy Craigslist deals.

This could include avoiding meeting a potential seller in an alleyway, or after dark.

Five people out of a six-person ring of three brothers, a girlfriend, and two acquaintances are charged with crimes related to a series of robberies undertaken using Craigslist ads.

One of the brothers is already serving time for other offenses and was not charged in this case.

The defendants include:

• Danielle Anna Mari Brandenburger, 23, St. Paul

• Mark Anthony Smith, 27, St. Paul

• William Timothy Chambers-Erby, 21, Minneapolis

• Charles Noel-Deandre Edwards, 18, Maplewood; and

• Jonathan Devon Smith, 23, address unknown.

Charges include aggravated robbery in the first degree, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, and attempted aggravated robbery.

Advertised phones, arrived with guns

According to a complaint from the Ramsey County attorney’s office, the defendants lured victims with Craigslist ads for cheap deals on smartphones, including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones.

The complaint lists ten victims who were robbed at gunpoint in seven separate incidents which took place between June 5 and July 1.

According to the complaint, “St. Paul investigators determined that all seven robberies were linked together based on suspects’ descriptions, phone numbers given and used, Facebook name, crime locations and the modus operandi of the crimes.” 

The robberies took place in various locations throughout the city, including in the Frogtown, North End and Conway neighborhoods.

In a June 11 robbery at the Sun Ray shopping center, officers responded to a call of an armed robbery, where three 17-year-olds had responded to a Craigslist ad for a white iPhone 5.

When one of the teens recognized that the phone the defendants had brought wasn’t the model advertised, one of the defendants allegedly pulled a handgun and pointed it at the boy.

From there, the two defendants took the boys’ cash and other personal property, according to the complaint.

Police found in the robbery schemes Mark Smith posted the ads using an unsecured WiFi signal from a neighboring apartment, the complaint states. His brother and the other two men would then meet the victims and execute the robberies at gunpoint.

Danielle Brandenburger, told police she was Mark Smith’s girlfriend and admitted to having knowledge of the robberies, as well as driving to the “meet” locations for several of the robberies.

“These defendants terrified multiple victims over a short period of time and thankfully no one was hurt,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement. “We will pursue justice for these victims as well as the community.”

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

Craigslist safety tips

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office and the St. Paul Police Department remind anyone conducting a Craigslist or similar transaction about the following safety tips:

• Perform all transactions in a public area with known video surveillance, such as a bank or a mall.

• Have 1-2 additional people with you during the transaction.

• Select a fast food restaurant or coffee shop for your transaction.

• Perform the transaction in front of a local police station or sheriff’s department.

• Do not accept calls from blocked numbers.

• Call the number back to ensure it is real.

• Only perform a transaction during the day or early evening when people are more likely to be around.

• Tell someone, a friend or family member, where you are going.

• If it does not feel right, end the transaction and leave. Trust your instincts.

 

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