By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) – Michael Chelala wanted to sell his lifted Hummer, so he put an ad on Craigslist. He was contacted by a man who said he was interested.

“He came with his girlfriend in a lifted burgundy (Jeep) Wrangler with no tire rack on the back,” said Chelala.

The couple wanted to take Chelala’s car for a test drive, so he collected a collected a $500 downpayment from them and they were on their way.

Chelala said “Everything seemed legit. I gave his girlfriend the car keys and she drove off.”

hummer theft 3 Owner Bear Maced During Hummer Heist

Michael Chelala (top) and his roommate escort a potential vehicle buyer (wearing baseball cap) to their apartment to discuss sale terms. (credit: Michael Chelala)

Later in the day, the couple said they wanted to buy his vehicle and were headed back with cash to finish the deal. When they couple arrived, Michael, his roommate, and the male half of the potential buyers went up to his apartment to do business.

When Michael inspected the money he realized it wasn’t enough.  In the bundles of money where there should have been larger bills, there were instead $1 bills.

“I saw the singles and I had a couple of seconds where I was in shock. I didn’t know what I was going to turn around to,” Chelala said.

hummer theft 1 Owner Bear Maced During Hummer Heist

Moments later, the potential buyer anxiously presses buttons in the elevator to escape with the vehicle keys. (credit: Michael Chelala)

That’s when the alleged buyer turned on him.

“He took that opportunity of me having my back to him to bear spray me after I turned around,” said Chelala.

hummer theft 2 Owner Bear Maced During Hummer Heist

(credit: Michael Chelala)

Michael was able to make it to the hallway of his building to get help, but the thief took off with his car.

Now, Michael wants to get the word out because he fears they may strike again.

He says, “I’m trying to create awareness nationwide for folks to keep an eye out for these guys because they’re out for their next heist.”

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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