The Edmonton Police Service has created a Safe Exchange Zone outside one of its police stations to make online buy-and-sell meet ups safer.
The force has converted two parking spots at its Southwest Division station for the purpose. Signs have been placed next to the two parking stalls, and the area is monitored 24/7 with video cameras.
“The Safe Exchange Zone … is intended to provide citizens with a safe alternative to placing themselves in potentially vulnerable positions when meeting someone for the first time regarding the sale or purchase of items listed online,” Det. Michael Walkom said in a news release.
Although officers won’t assist people with meetups, people will know they’re being monitored and can contact police right away if something goes wrong.
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Walkom said the created the Safe Exchange Zone after an uptick in crime reports related to online buying and selling. Last year, police made 77 arrests and 218 charges were laid related to online buy-and-sell meet ups.
“Our investigations led to the recovery of $170,000 in stolen property and 64 arrest warrants being executed, not to mention numerous incidents of violent offences including personal robberies facilitated through these face-to-face exchanges,” Walkom said.
EPS encourages people to use the Safe Exchange Zone during daylight hours and when Southwest Division is open. Its hours are from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Saturday, and 10 am to 6 pm Sunday.
The force also has other safety tips, such as asking the buyer or seller for their ID and taking a picture of it for reference.