Ways to stay safe when buying and selling items from people online

Jefferson Parish deputies say a man selling his dirt bike on a Facebook marketplace page was shot and killed by the person responding to his ad.
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Updated: Mar. 8, 2021 at 9:32 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Law enforcement officers say if someone is meeting another person to buy an item he or she saw online, they should always take steps to protect themself.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto spoke out after the arrest of Jalen Harvey, 20, who he said admitted to shooting Joseph Vindel, 29, multiple times, killing him after responding to a Facebook ad for a dirt bike.

“Look, it’s a $2,800 dirtbike. Nothing someone should be shot over,” said Lopinto. “Mr. Vindel never returned from that transaction. His family continued to start looking for him at that point in time.”

More: New Orleans man killed trying to sell dirt bike on social media

The sheriff said Harvey drove Vindel’s SUV uptown with his body inside the vehicle. Once there, Lopinto said Harvey took the dirt bike off the back of the SUV and drove the dirtbike back to his apartment.

This crime has law enforcement and security advisers, like Marlon Defillo, former deputy chief for the New Orleans Police Department and now-owner of Crescent City Consulting Security. He reminded people that when doing business online, there are ways to minimize your chances of becoming a victim.

“First of all do your research. You’re about to engage in a transaction with someone you don’t know; someone you’ve never met before,” said Defillo.

He recommends meeting somewhere that is typically busy-- like a coffee shop-- or somewhere with security-- like a bank. He also recommends meeting during the daylight hours and bringing a friend.

Defillo said the police department is also a good meeting location because it is usually well lit and has security cameras in place.

“If a criminal is going to engage in some type of criminal behavior, he’s not going to do it in front of a police station where police officers are coming and going,” he said.

Defillo said the most important thing is to trust your instinct. He said if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Adding “it’s not worth your personal safety.”

“This was a crime of opportunity,” he said. “Criminals, individuals who commit violent acts look for those situations-- those opportunities-- where they commit these types of crimes.”

Fox 8 spoke with Vindel’s family who said they were devastated and they just want justice for what happened. They describe Vindel as a good person who would never hurt anyone. They believe this was nothing more than murder.

Sheriff Lopinto said it is still unclear if it was an argument that led to the shooting or if Harvey planned the whole thing.

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