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TACOMA, Wash. - A family feud may be behind a fake ad on Craigslist that invited people to take whatever they wanted for free from a Tacoma home, but it appears police aren't ready to haul anyone to jail for it.
Laurie Raye owns the home that was trashed after someone posted an ad on the advertising website. "In the ad, it said come and take what you want," says Raye as she looks over what little was left in the home.
Lots of people saw or heard about the offer and chaos ensued. Neighbors say they saw strangers pull up and haul away all sorts of stuff. Nearly everything of value has been stripped. Light fixtures, mirrors, baseboards, the hot water heater, cabinets, even the kitchen sink.
"I'm trying to figure out how Craigslist screens people," says Raye, "And how they verify who's placing the ad."
That's where an already bizarre story takes its own strange twist.
Raye says she recently evicted the tenant who was living there – her own sister – leading to speculation that Raye's own siblings may be behind the ad.
An off-duty Tacoma police officer noticed the Craigslist ad last week, inviting people to enter the unlocked house and take whatever they wanted. Later, that same officer noticed the ad was flagged and canceled after a reported burglary at the house.
The sibling rivalry is one of the reasons Tacoma Police are not looking at this as a criminal case. They say it's a civil matter.
"We've had lots of scams off of Craigslist, " says Tacoma Police Detective Gretchen Ellis. "Not everything you read is the truth."
Officials at Craigslist say they need a subpoena or search warrant to release information about who posted the ad. Tacoma Police say they are not going to request those documents.
Police also say even if they knew who took items from the home, most would likely not face criminal charges.