When Joseph Preville's father called him and told him about a certain recent crime in South Florida, the 24-year-old salesman took a moment to re-consider his methods of finding a roommate.
"It's unfortunate, and the thing that happened in Miami is like an example of what could possibly go wrong if you don't take these steps," Preville said as he explained how he plans to safely find a roommate online.
Preville is using Craigslist, the same method a young woman in Miami used to find a roommate that ended with disastrous consequences.
Right now, Danielle Jones, 23, sits in a South Florida hospital after a blood transfusion and about 300 stitches, recovering from a violent attack.
Police arrested Jones's roommate, Byron Mitchell, 35, and charged him with attempted murder. Jones's mother told the ABC News affiliate in Miami that her daughter didn't do much of a background check before deciding to bring Mitchell in as a roommate.
"You have no idea what these people have done in the past, what they're capable of doing," said Preville, who plans on doing a lot more homework on his future roommate before agreeing to live with them.
"If anything rubs you the wrong way and if anything makes you question if they're safe or legitimate, my honest to God advice would be to just move on to the next one," Preville said.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Maj. Chad Chronister says his biggest suggestion is doing a background check on a potential roommate, which he says goes well beyond a simple online search, which may not show a criminal record. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement offers criminal background checks on their website, and Contemporary Information Corp (CIC Reports) is one of several national background check services that charge a nominal fee to do a nation-wide criminal background check.
Experian offers credit checks, sometimes at no cost.
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