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The Stack Archive

Police set up Craigslist safe zones for online traders

Thu 16 Jul 2015

Online safe zones are popping up all over the U.S. at police stations, providing internet traders a secure place to meet and exchange goods in the knowledge that officers are only moments away.

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The concept is not new, however the popularity of online safe zones has increased dramatically over the past few months as a reaction to the rising number of high-profile incidents related to public online buying and selling. 100 stations nationwide now offer online safe zones in their lobbies and carparks.

Georgetown police is one of the latest constabularies to establish an online safe zone. “They have to meet them somewhere, but they don’t know who they’re meeting and they don’t really have any background on these people […] They can come here and at least they’ll feel that the person is legitimate and won’t take their money,” said Lieutenant Scott Hatch of Georgetown police, based just north of Boston, Massachusetts.

Typically police do not involve themselves with these online transactions, but growing numbers of police departments are offering to scan their databases of recorded stolen goods if requested by a trader for added confidence in the transaction.

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One female trader at Georgetown’s safe zone commented: “It is always a little nerve-wracking when you go to someone’s house. It’s in the back of your mind: ‘I hope this person is okay and everything turns out all right […] I think my mother is happier I’m doing it this way.”

In May a teenager was killed in Illinois by a man who had reportedly responded to an ad for the college student’s sports car. Earlier in the year, a pregnant woman in Longmont, Colorado was also attacked by an individual claiming to sell baby clothes – the woman survived the stabbing but her unborn baby did not.

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