MILWAUKIE, Ore. Last December, Abram Underwood bought a MacBook on Craigslist for $400, opened it and got a message on the computer telling him it was stolen.

Chloe Simmons had sent the message, warning whoever had the laptop that it belonged to her.

Simmons and a police officer then met with Underwood, and she showed them the computer s files, proving that it indeed belonged to her, said Ulli Neitch with Milwaukie police.

However, when police ran the computer s serial number, they discovered it belonged to neither Simmons nor Underwood.

Apparently, the laptop had been stolen before, from its previous owner, when Simmons bought it on Craigslist one year ago, Neitch said.

In January of 2012, Alexander Stanisel reported his MacBook stolen and still had the box with the serial number on it.

After one year and some frustration, Stanisel finally got his computer back.

Officers recently identified a suspect who last sold the stolen computer but police have not released a name.

Police warn anyone making purchases on Craigslist and similar websites to scrutinize items for signs they might be stolen. They point out that thieves often use the Internet to quickly unload stolen property.

Police urge buyers to look out for sellers providing sketchy information, and if possible, document the seller s picture I.D.

Also, once an item is determined to be stolen, the buyer loses not only the money, but the stolen property as well.

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