Chronology of events:
On 11/05/2012, the first victim located an ad on Craigslist regarding a 2000 BMW 328I for sale. The contact information located in the ad was the email address of DevinJones925@yahoo. The victim communicated back and forth with the suspect, which eventually led to the victim bringing $3,250 in cash to purchase the BMW to 12550 Miracle Hill, in the City of Desert Hot Springs at approximately 1 p.m. on Tuesday 11/6/12. The victim parked behind the apartment complex as directed and waited. Soon after, the suspect appeared wearing a beanie covering his face. The suspect pointed a handgun at him and demanded the money. The victim managed to escape the suspect without turning over his money.
On 11/07/2012, a second victim located the same ad with the same email address. He also communicated back and forth with the suspect and they agreed to meet at the same location later that day. The victim saw two Black males talking with each other. One walked past him and the other approached with a beanie over his face and started yelling at the victim to hand over the money. When the victim refused, the suspect pulled out a handgun and tried to open the victim’s door. The suspect was also trying to shoot the victim but the gun appeared to malfunction. The victim fled the scene without handing over the money and called 911.
Soon thereafter, officers from the DHS PD SET (Special Enforcement Team) initiated an investigation and began an attempt to locate the suspect. As a result of an extensive three day investigation, the officers believed they had the suspect identified as Darius Griffin. Further investigation led them to believe Darius Griffin would be attempting another robbery based on the same Craigslist ad he used previously.
On Saturday November 10th, the SET officers, with the assistance of patrol officers and detectives began their surveillance of the area. At approximately 5 p.m., officers saw Griffin leave his residence and began to walk towards the Miracle Hill location. When officers saw him put the beanie over his head they attempted to take him into custody. Griffin tried to run but was quickly captured.
As he ran he threw a loaded handgun and the beanie to the ground. Officers retrieved the gun and the beanie. The gun was loaded. A search warrant was then served at his residence. Further evidence was recovered including stolen property that he had been using for communication purposes during these incidents. It was also revealed that he used a neighbor’s unlocked wireless system to both conceal and enhance his communication capabilities.
Griffin has a lengthy criminal history and was on probation for other felonies. He was transported to DHS PD, interviewed, then taken to the Riverside County Jail in Banning to be booked on the above charges.
Although a large percentage of these types of ads are legitimate, we would strongly urge the public to take some simple precautions when attempting a transaction from any type of advertisement involving private parties and large amounts of money. The most simple and safest method is to use a very public and well lit location for these transactions. If the seller balks at this request, or if you witness behavior that you believe to be suspicious in any way, abandon the effort and re-evaluate your options. Further, this case would not have been solved had it not been for the victims notifying us of the crimes against them. It is critical that if you are victimized in such a way that you call us immediately. It will prevent additional victims. Websites such as Craigslist also post informative notices warning of fraudulent ads.
The DHS PD assembled this Special Enforcement Team (SET) to investigate, locate and apprehend the worst of our criminal element so they can no longer victimize innocent members of our’s, and other communities. This case was a perfect example of the types of cases they are capable of handling as part of our team including the detectives and patrol officers.
Anyone with any information regarding this incident should also contact the Desert Hot Springs Police Department. Dispatch Tel: (760) 329-2904