Making purchases or selling items online is convenient for many, but also carries risks when that anonymous stranger contacted on a buy-and-sell website turns out to be a criminal.
To combat this type of crime, the Elizabeth Police Department has created a Safe Exchange Zone in front of its headquarters at 1 Police Plaza, In addition to its proximity to the police station, the area itself is under full-time surveillance.
There have been a number of robberies as online purchases through sites like Craigslist and Facebook have increased in popularity, often with "sellers" luring buyers to locations where they are then robbed.
Meeting in a public place alone isn't enough to guarantee one's safety -- one armed robbery occurred in the daytime at a Walmart parking lot. According to SafeTrade, an initiative to make online purchases more secure, more than 100 killings have been linked to Craigslist purchases alone.
The group has compiled a list of New Jersey communities that have specifically designated safe trade zones, although the list compiled by the group may not be complete. The group also notes that at or near police departments are often the best place to meet for a safe transaction, whether they have a specially designated safe trade area or not.
A complete list of online buying and selling safety tips can be found here.
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