Woman accuses cop neighbor of forging "Come get all my stuff for free" ad on Craigslist

A woman in Mansfield, TX spent a day chasing off aggressive bargain-hunters who were responding to a Craigslist posting offering her tetherball and and basketball hoop for free. The ad had allegedly been placed by her neighbor, a cop who didn't like having them visible next door. By the end of the day, the bargain-seekers had managed to make off with both.
Sherry Johnson Huwitt was standing at her kitchen window in her bathrobe shortly before dawn a couple of weeks ago when two strangers pulled up and started loading the portable basketball goal from the side of her house into a truck.

Sherry Johnson Huwitt says that when she recently confronted strangers who were about to haul off a portable basketball goal from outside her house, they told her the item had been offered for giveaway in an ad on Craigslist.

When the Mansfield woman ran outside to confront them, they said they weren't stealing because the item was offered for the taking on Craigslist.

"What the hell is Craigslist?" she asked.

Huwitt had never heard of the advertising Web site and hadn't posted any such ad. Someone else did: Free basket ball goal and tether ball pole. At dead end of roadway beside my home...(address) dont knock its placed out there for you to come get. will delete when gone. thanks.

Mansfield woman says Arlington officer offered her possessions on Craigslist without her consent (via Consumerist)


  1. The article makes it seem like the cop doesn’t have much in the way of defense: “The e-mail address Craigslist identified as the sender of the ad belongs to one of Huwitt’s neighbors, Chad Lee Hickey, an Arlington police officer. Arlington Police Department spokesman Blake Miller will say only that the department is conducting an internal investigation of an employee.”

    There’s a temptation to make a joke about how if he had tazed her he’d be in less trouble.

  2. That’s hilarious… and horrible. Hmmmmmmmmm, I wonder what kind of trouble I can get up to ???? ( rubs hands together and smiles coyly)

  3. That cop was only protecting his neighbor from basket related injuries.

    It´s an HERO!

    (and he didnt tased her)

  4. He used his regular email address? Or did someone used his email address so that he gets the blame?

    Perhaps she should have stuck a big sign on the pole. “The Craigslist ad was fake. Do not take this. If you try, I would have you arrested for theft”.

  5. @ 5&6: He did it and has admitted he did it. From the linked article:

    According to a copy of the resignation letter provided by Sherry Huwitt, Hickey apologized “for any and all upset feelings. Due to the items needing to be removed since they were not properly taken care of, I thought of a solution that was wrong to a valid issue. I regret my decision and wish I could take it back.”

    The outrageous thing is that his police department isn’t sure if a crime has been committed. Methinks he’s squarely in the federal wire fraud camp.

  6. Jesus Christ, BoingBoing will achieve what a lifetime of enduring the world’s stupidity hasn’t: pushing me to the right of the political spectrum. (It’s a joke…)

    If that story had been about another asshole who happened not to be a cop, would it have made a post on BB even though it would have been just as deserving?

    Does everything on BB has to be about bad cops, repressive UK, Rogers in Canada and other ruts? Has creativity completely been completely evacuated from BoingBoing? Is it now all about sticking to a market niche?

  7. Our Freecycle (are they still around?) group banned “curbside” announcements for this reason. I also heard that taking stuff left for refuse removal is legally stealing … er … stealing in the eyes of the law because you’re removing property that belongs to someone without their permission.

    I hope this doesn’t cause some kind of change to Craigslist’s policies because it sure is convenient to announce something you’re throwing away (in fact, I’m going to do that with a loveseat that never got any interest for $20 that my neighbors had thrown away before).

    I think the big-picture crime is that people throw away such nice things [the loveseat, by the way, smells like dogs and nobody was interested in it] that it is not possible to discern when something is suspicious. Being an occasional junker and chronic pack rat, I am still amazed that people have throw away the things they do. Heck, my electric lawnmower came from the trash (and yes, it was piled on top of refuse and not just parked in the front yard) — all it needed was for the blade to be tightened.

  8. IAmInnocent#8:

    If that story had been about another asshole who happened not to be a cop, would it have made a post on BB even though it would have been just as deserving?

    Yes. Not cops.

  9. For IamInnocent@8
    The thing is that police have the personality as used car salesmen you know do/say what ever is ness. to get the job done. That leads to a lot of police doing stupid shit. These stories get posted because they are police and get the local headlines for doing this crap.

    This is not conspiracy or bias if you are in public service Don’t do stupid shit; keep your head down and do your job.

  10. IAmInnocent, don’t let your filter taint your view of BB; you’re just honing in on what you want to see. As Roast Beef pointed out, they’ve made almost this exact post before about people that weren’t cops. So your point? Not so valid. Take it easy and realize that it’s okay for Cory to like stories like this. It doesn’t harm the innocent.

  11. Clearly the neighbor is in the wrong for this, not only because he set this woman up for theft of her property, but because he exposed her to some of the crazies who haunt the “free” section of Craigslist.

    We’re moving soon, and posted a few Craigslist ads for things we wanted to give away. Got no response on most of it, but there was a frenzy of activity over a cheese board and set of cheese knives. They were gone within an hour of posting. Subsequent emailers refused to believe that someone had already come and gotten the stuff, and accused us of running a scam. Yes, the insidious “We’re giving away a cheese board… NOT!!!” scam.

  12. Although I think the cop was wrong and should be punished severlly for this, I thought it was ridiculous that the woman claimed it was racially motivated. Maybe there’s more to the story, but from what the article says, the cop just didn’t like looking at the stuff in her yard. Someone made this same point in the comments to the article. Of course, that just led to them also being called rascist in the very next comment.

  13. @#14 – That’s exactly what I came here to say. I am appalled at the officer’s conduct (would be equally appalled if he were a civilian), but it definitely takes away from the woman’s credibility/my sympathy that she is playing the race card AND that she is so ridiculously claiming “I could have been murdered! My children could have been murdered!” Over a basketball hoop? Come on. Stick to the facts, they’re damaging enough IMO.

  14. who are these people who are opposed to “bad cop” stories? where do they live? pleasantville?

  15. It sounded like the stuff was on the street, similar to cul-de-sac, where kid play in the end. If the item were on the street, they may as well been picked up by the trash man.

  16. From the linked story:

    “The reporting officer originally wrote the offense for forgery,” said Sgt. Stan Davis of the Mansfield Police Department. “We don’t really know what the offense is yet. There are several different offenses that might fit. That’s why the district attorney is reviewing it, to find out if there is a criminal offense and, if so, to find out which offense fits the best.”

    Translation for non-cops: “We’re trying the best we can to find some technicality to let our guy off the hook for something we’d happily bust YOU for, but we’re having a pretty tough time of it. We sure wish some white woman would get herself kidnapped so everybody would stop looking at us.”

  17. @ 10, 11 and 12

    OK, I stand corrected and I am glad for it because I like BB overall. I won’t even try to defend whatever validity my point may still have, so wrong I was. Pride tastes bitter though.

  18. The cop is guilty of theft (by proxy or agent). He enabled the reception of stolen property by the people who came and got it. They are guilty of receiving stolen property. The fact that the cop received an intangible benefit (removal of that which he considered an eyesore) doesn’t make it less of a benefit.

  19. The cop should be charged with the same crime that anyone who steals something and gives it to a 3rd party would be charged with.

  20. “The cop should be charged with the same crime that anyone who steals something and gives it to a 3rd party would be charged with.”

    Well, they tried to kill Robin Hood. That’s probably not an applicable precedent in this case, though.

  21. According to a copy of the resignation letter provided by Sherry Huwitt, Hickey apologized “for any and all upset feelings. Due to the items needing to be removed since they were not properly taken care of, I thought of a solution that was wrong to a valid issue. I regret my decision and wish I could take it back.”

    That’s a prime example of copspeak, right there.

  22. Hey, good job, IAMINNOCENT. Always own up, it makes people who disagree with you willing to listen to you and take your points into consideration nonetheless. Well, normal people anyway.

    You’re obviously a bigger man than the cop in the story – even as he apologizes for committing multiple crimes he had to sneak in his “but I was in the right” sideways.

  23. #23: To be clear, that resignation letter is from the neighborhood association. Presumably he’s still on the force.

  24. Psychomashugana & Brett Burton,

    I think it is presumptuous to immediately say “we don’t have all the information, BUT…” then say that you are incredulous that race played a part.

    One of the most horrible things about being a police officer is that you deal with the worst of the worst usually in a selected area. Although not a guarantee it is well documented that people of similar heritage tend to congregate. This becomes very difficult for police who are assigned to areas that have to deal with a majority of calls day in and day out.

    The actor who played Eddie Haskell on ‘Leave it to Beaver”, Ken Osmond was once quoted as saying it is easy for police officers to disenfranchised with a populace that they have to deal with regularly. The now retired LA police officer said he had problems dealing with White people for just this reason even though he was white himself. This was due to the massive amounts of calls he was forced to answer that slowly wore away at him.

    I am not saying this is right, or that this is an acceptable way to live. I am saying that it happens and it is well documented. It is possible that race did have a finger in this, even if the officer doesn’t intentionally know it. Although I have had many good and bad run ins with police in my life time, I can sympathize with the continual bashing these men and women must take on their compassion. There are some easy and some not so easy answers to these problems, but the fact is that it is possible race had a hand in this. We don’t know and to start trashing one side who might have an actual leg to stand on without more information is in poor taste. I would say the disingenuous apology and lack of forthcoming restitution does lead a little credence to the victim’s side, but not enough to sway my over all judgment. If he was genuinely sorry he would not have made the “but I was right” comment. More information is necessary before we start trashing a victim of a crime, even if the police do cover their own… it was still a crime.


  25. IAmInnocent@19: Don’t worry about it none. :) Your post just reminded of that story from last year. You might want to adjust your focus, though, because the Boing Boing that I read has creative stories on a whole host of other topics besides bad cops and bad government.

  26. @ Tizroc:

    My intent was not to trash the victim. It was more a comment on the sensationalist nature of the article. For all I know, her quotes were taken out of context, or as you pointed out, there’s more to the story. That’s often the case with news articles.

    That doesn’t change the fact that my jaw dropped in disbelief when I read:

    “He put my life in danger, and my daughters,” she said. “I just ran out there. Those guys could have killed me.

    “I could have grabbed a shotgun and shot it over nothing,” she said. “And he’s a police officer. How can he endanger people’s lives like that?”

    Her sports equipment was stolen. That’s wrong, especially because it happened due to the actions of someone that we as a society hold to particularly high moral standards. I just don’t see how anyone’s life was endangered.

    But hey, maybe they live in a really bad neighborhood.

  27. Guys, it was in Texas. Of course it was racially motivated! The police force is usually full of rednecks. Even here in Memphis, especially the County side of things.

  28. psychomashugana,

    I understand your point. I accidentally cropped a portion of my already long winded diatribe. The American sheep are overly influenced by media attention as many people reading these blogs have been shown time and again. It is an unfortunate side effect of recent “Craigs List” killer attention that a large majority of people have become overly sensitive, and unnecessarily fearful. I do not know for certain (in this case) but the media slobbering mindless freaks around my neighborhood seem to have fallen for the same crap. The pendulum of fear seems to have swung full tilt to the over react side directly on to the Craigs list media hype.

    This doesn’t excuse people from using their minds in any way. These are people who have allowed others to do their thinking and that fills me with sadness. I feel a large portion of contempt and compassion for these people, with a huge side of dread for the masses in general.

    Thank you for your response.

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