Any of us that have dealt with Craigslist have probably felt a bit uneasy about the experience at the beginning.
Craigslist, and other sites like it, allow you to post items you would like to sell – a couch, a truck, a washing machine, whatever it may be – or post objects that you are looking to buy.
You can save some money on certain items, but the drawback is you are dealing with strangers and there is no accountability that exists with in-store purchases.
Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood says concerned calls over these deals come in frequently in reference to horrifying stories from around the country regarding Craigslist postings being used as bait for criminal activity.
“People in turn calls us and say, ‘I’m looking to buy something on Craigslist, but I saw where these people were killed,’” the sheriff says. “We try to explain to them that that’s an older case but, certainly, you want to be cautious and pick the location that you want to have this to take place in.”
If you are feeling a bit cautious about meeting the other party for a Craigslist deal, now you can meet up at the Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s a better and safer way to conduct online business transactions with Craigslist and similar purchases that are made via the Internet,” Blackwood says.
Blackwood says the Transaction Safe Zone has been established to increase the sense of security for the buyer and seller after striking a deal.
“It was a no-brainer for us to try to create a situation where the buyer and/or the seller have that level of confidence that they have a safe place, that is in public, [and] that potentially could ward off anyone who had any ill will to begin with,” he says.
At the request of either party, the Sheriff’s Office is also offering to check the serial number of the item being bought or sold to ensure that it is not stolen merchandise.
You can use the parking lot of the Sheriff’s Office in Hillsborough as a meeting point without notifying law enforcement. You can also come inside to the lobby during business hours. And if you would like a deputy to be with you during the transaction you can also make that request through the Sheriff’s Office.