People live so much of their lives online nowadays that it’s easy to think of the internet as a virtual Mayberry –– an endearing small town full of crazy characters who go on political tirades and post videos of their cats, but don’t mean you any harm. Bad stuff only happens to those awful immoral people who troll the web for sex, the thinking goes. Surely no trouble can come to patriotic, football-loving North Texans who just want to buy a used Blackberry to keep track of their church activities, right?

Turns out even adults need the occasional “stranger danger” reminder: Fort Worth and Arlington police recently held a joint press conference to warn folks that 2013 has so far seen a spike in criminal activity –– including rape and murder –– connected to online ads for buying and selling electronic gadgets. You know, someone replies to your Craigslist blurb selling a crappy iPhone, the two of you arrange to meet somewhere out-of-the-way, and bam! –– you’re staring down the metal snout of a boomstick.

So remember, if you’re trading tech items with a stranger you meet online, treat the innocuous transaction as cautiously and suspiciously as if you’re trying to arrange a meth-fueled hotel room orgy with farm animals. In other words, always be aware that the online world, like the “real” one (is there a difference anymore?), includes shady characters with dangerous motives.