Police Dept. offers its parking lot for safer Craigslist deals

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 7, 2015

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Looking to buy or sell something on Craigslist with someone in person, but a little skittish about where to meet them?

How about the front parking lot of Troy Police Headquarters?

The Troy Police Department is offering its parking lot and front lobby as a safe zone to complete Craigslist transactions.

Troy police Sgt. Meghan Lehman described the move as a “pre-emptive measure.”

“There have been incidents over the years, but there’s no significant increase,” she said of crimes involving transactions started online.

Across the country, a number of incidents have been connected to Craigslist transactions.

In past years in Troy, incidents have occurred in which items, such as cellphones, were later discovered to be stolen.

Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer suggested that anyone planning a Craigslist transaction do so during the day, meet in a public place and trust one’s instincts.

“The bottom line is, you don’t know who you are doing business with, and extra safety precautions should be taken,” Mayer said.

Police invite anyone to meet buyers or sellers in the front lot of the Troy Police Headquarters during daylight hours. The area is under camera surveillance.

Police officers will not become involved in the transactions unless police intervention is required.

“Law enforcement, in general, across the country, is saying this is a good idea,” Mayer said. “It just makes sense.”

The Troy Police Department is open 24 hours a day. The lobby desk is attended from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Safe Trade, according to its website, safetradestations.com, was launched in 2015 in response to “thousands of transactions initiated on Craigslist and other classified sites that have gone awry.”

Safe Trade offers tips for times when meeting at a police station for a transaction — such as selling a sofa — is impractical.

• Meet at a public place where you can exchange and photocopy each others’ identification papers, such as a driver’s license. Do not carry cash to this location.

• Photocopy the license or identification paper, or use your phone to photograph it.

• Email the identification information to a friend or to someone trusted, but not to yourself.

• If you’re selling at home, or going to someone’s home, never be outnumbered. If you’re at home, make sure you have two or three people there, and tell the person who is coming that you will have others with you. There is some safety in numbers.

• If you’re selling at home, never let someone go anywhere unaccompanied, not even to the bathroom. Always make sure they are escorted.

• Never let more than one group come to your home at one time to buy or sell.

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