Ottawa police are warning residents to be cautious when selling and buying items online after a woman suffered multiple skull fractures when she was either struck or dragged by a car following a meeting with a potential buyer at her home Monday night.

The 31-year-old mother of two was injured after she met a stranger who responded to an ad she placed online for a piece of jewelry worth more than $1,000.

The woman's mother-in-law told CTV Ottawa that the woman's husband and two children were at home when the transaction occurred at their Plainhill Drive home in Orleans.

When the pair met, the transaction quickly turned dangerous. Somehow, police said the woman was dragged or thrown from a car, which sped away from the scene at about 9 p.m.

A witness found the woman on the road following the incident and called 911. The woman, who is a public servant, is now in critical but stable condition in hospital.

Staff-Sgt. Don Sweet said police are unsure if the buyer tried to steal the jewelry; however, the item remains missing.

Police are now looking for a white or silver sports car that was spotted speeding away from the scene. Investigators said the vehicle may have sustained damage to the body of the car or its windshield.

Although the woman's husband and children were upstairs at the time of the transaction, they did not hear anything unusual at the time of the incident.

The woman's mother-in-law told CTV Ottawa that her son only learned something was wrong when police knocked on the door to notify him of the situation.

"It's just awful. It's something that you don't expect . . . that happens to others," said Michelle Galipeau.

Police are now warning other buyers and sellers to use caution when meeting people regarding online advertisements, especially when they involve portable or expensive items.

"A few months ago, we had a series of robberies where cellphones were the focus and people were meeting people where they shouldn't be meeting and they became the victims of a robbery, held up at gunpoint," said Sweet.

Many online websites that specialize in buying and selling used items post warnings about the risks involved with meeting strangers for a business transaction.

While craigslist notes that the majority of its users are "trustworthy and well-intentioned," a posting on its website advises users that "it's very important to take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline."

Safety precautions include:

  • Meeting in a public place
  • Telling a friend or family member where you're going when meeting for a transaction
  • Making sure to bring a cell phone along (if you have one)
  • Having a friend accompany you
  • Trusting your instincts

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Ottawa police at 613-236-1222, ext. 5116 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-TIPS.

Do you buy or sell items online? Do you take safety precautions when meeting someone for a transaction? Have your say by posting a comment below . . .

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Kristy Kirkup