Police today arrested a Medford couple who allegedly used hoax postings on Craigslist to cover up their own thefts from a rural Jacksonville residence later inundated by Craigslist readers who thought the property’s contents were free pickings.

Amber D. Herbert, 28, and Brandon D. Herbert, 29, were taken into custody on burglary, theft and computer crime charges involving the Craigslist hoax that drew international attention and cost the victim several thousand dollars, authorities said.

The Herberts owned the computer used to post two online Craigslist messages March 22 that invited readers to help themselves to what was purported to be abandoned belongings, including a horse, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

But it was just a ruse to cover the Herberts’ own thefts of horse saddles and other items from a garage on the Sterling Creek Road property a few days earlier, Jackson County sheriff’s Sgt. Colin Fagan said.

The Herberts originally went to the house, in the 7900 block of Sterling Creek Road, because it was listed as a rental property and they were looking for a rental, Fagan said.

The Herberts and the victim, Robert Salisbury, had no other connection, Fagan said.

The Herberts, who have no criminal records in Oregon, were taken into custody on charges of first-degree theft, conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary and two counts of conspiracy to commit computer crime.

They were lodged today at the Jackson County Jail, where each was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail.

Detectives used computer records to trace the postings to the Herberts’ computer, which they turned over when asked last week, police said.

Several deleted files and other evidence linking the computer to the Craigslist posts were discovered on the machine, yet both suspects denied any involvement with the posts, police said.

However, the Herberts told police they took several saddles from the property and sold them over the Internet.

Detectives urge anyone who recently purchased saddles from a Medford resident or believes he or she might have some of Salisbury’s property to call them at 541-774-6812.

- Mark Freeman