New Trend: Police Stations as Craigslist 'Safe Havens'

Authorities urge buyers, sellers to meet there just in case
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2015 12:26 PM CST
Chicago Police Officer Tony Washington watches surveillance videos at the 18th District Chicago Police Station March 19, 2010.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

(Newser) – It's understandable if you're a bit nervous about meeting up for a business transaction with a stranger you met on Craigslist—but in Illinois and many other places, you may not have to. Police departments in the state are starting to offer up their lobbies as "safe havens" where buyers and sellers from Craigslist or other online markets can meet to make their transactions, the Chicago Tribune reports, and it's a trend in place in other states as well. It's a "preventative measure," says the police commander in Naperville, who explains that most crime related to online transactions in the Chicago suburb is scam-related and does not involve face-to-face transactions.

Police aren't actually involved in the transactions, but more departments—including the Chicago PD—are recommending people meet there just in case, or, if not a police department, then a well-lit public place. One town manager in an Indiana town that is offering similar safe zones says buyers and sellers can even request a police officer be present. Many officials stress that in-person crime related to Craigslist transactions is rare, but the Tribune notes that other operations have been started across the nation to help buyers and sellers find safe places to meet, including police lobbies and parking lots, and a search for "Craigslist safe zones" returns numerous examples. My Fox Philly reports that the first one in the US launched in Conshohocken, Pa., in October.

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