One of the beautiful things about the Internet is the ability for people to buy and sell from one another. However the Internet also can bring you in contact with some pretty bad characters who have no intention of conducting an honest transaction.
As a result of the rise in crime of this nature police and sheriff’s departments nationwide are creating areas at their stations for people to complete transactions that began online. These areas are known as Safe Zones or Safe Havens.
Although this trend started several years ago the idea has caught on. As many as 70 police agencies stretching from Boca Raton, Florida to Bedford, Texas, have created safe transaction zones. They are usually in parking lots or lobbies according to websites that track the programs. Safe havens located inside buildings are normally open only during office hours and no reservations are required. Parking lots are usually available 24/7.
Because these areas are literally inside the police station or on police property and under surveillance theives are detered from committing crimes. The program does have its skeptics who believe the police accept some liability if a transction goes wrong. But many police departments said they felt obligated to do something as a result of crimes carried out as part of an online transaction.
According to a report by the AIM Group, a classified-ad consultancy, 87 killings were tied to Craigslist interactions in the U.S. since 2007, including 22 last year and six so far in 2015.
Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist’s chief executive accuses AIM of unjustly portraying the website as fraught with risk for criminal activity. AIM has done studies of crime connected to Craigslist by its competitors.
Craigslist does offer an advisory on its “Personal Safety” page that reads: “With billions of human interactions facilitated, the incidence of violent crime is extremely low.” Among several precautions the company suggests is to “consider making high-value exchanges at your local police station.”
Where the service is available people seem to aprove. Atlanta Craigslist user Derek Lee said news reports of people getting murdered after connecting online caused him to complete his transactions at a police station.
That “is your ultimate safety zone,” he said. “It’s not just personal safety. I think people are less likely to rip each other off, like selling a bogus product or counterfeit product.”
Law-enforcement officials said it is too early to determine whether the zones are reducing crime, but some contend initial results are promising.
Now you know