A Wake Forest, N.C., boating store used Craigslist to get back more than $1,000 in equipment, including six canoes, a kayak and a trailer, that were stolen from the business in October.
"More times than not, these things don't get solved," Paddle Creek manager Bob Doty told WRAL.com.
Doty's boss, Chuck Arkell, thought that if the thieves planned to sell the boats, he could find them by shopping around the Internet. He turned to Craigslist.
"He called back and said, 'I see one of our boats on Craigslist,' " Doty said.
Arkell arranged for Doty to meet the sellers in the parking lot of a gas station and police gave him marked bills to make the transaction. Officers told Doty that if he recognized the boat, he should make the buy. That would be their clue to swarm in.
"I knew right away it was ours. It still had the Paddle Creek sticker on it," Doty said.
A dozen hidden officers moved in with guns drawn. They surrounded the two men who showed up to sell the boat.
The men, identified in search warrants as Garrett Michael Whitt, 22, and Zachary David Harris, 21, were taken into custody. Investigators said Harris told them about other stolen property being held in a rented storage facility and other items sold through Craigslist.
"They rolled in and took them down," Doty said. "They were pretty surprised. I do not think they expected it."