Police establish safe transaction zones

Published 11:08 pm Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Suffolk Police Department has announced two safe transaction zones to allow citizens to conduct transactions organized online safely.

The two safe meeting locations are at the Suffolk Police headquarters, 111 Henley Place, as well as the department’s Sector II precinct, 3903 Bridge Road.

Both locations have video surveillance 24 hours a day in the lobby as well as surrounding the building, said Maj. James Buie of the Suffolk Police Department.

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Nationally, there has been an increase of robberies and assaults on people attempting to buy or sell items through sites like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp and Craigslist and being lured in by unscrupulous people.

“People are being lured into secluded areas, dark areas, and then robbed,” Buie said.

Ideally, buyers and sellers should meet in well lit, public areas when a fair number of people are around, preferably during the day.

If one of the parties suggests something different, Buie said, it may be time to consider breaking off the transaction.

“If you say, ‘Meet me at the Farm Fresh,’ and they say, ‘Let’s meet at a dead end somewhere,’ the red flags should start coming up,” he said. “The red flags are there if you listen.”

Buie said people are likely to feel safer in or near the police buildings, and there is surveillance available if a crime does occur. He believes many people are already using the locations on an unofficial basis to exchange items.

“We hope people will utilize it,” he said. “It’s an attempt for us to keep our citizens safer.”

Buie said police will not get involved in the transactions unless a crime occurs. Officers won’t be available to run background checks or stand by for the transaction, Buie said.

Person-to-person gun sales will be allowed, Buie said, although he personally doesn’t recommend it. Those buying and selling guns are encouraged not to show them off or load and unload them on the grounds.

Buie said signage should be installed soon.

The department’s headquarters lobby is open 24 hours a day. The Sector II lobby is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Outside of those hours, the parking lot can be used.

Suffolk police offer these tips to help keep transactions safe:

  • Never meet someone alone; take a friend with you.
  • If the buyer or seller is reluctant to give you their name or phone number or wants to meet in a secluded area, do not go.
  • Meet at a safe location, such as a police station, that is well lit and public.
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.