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Some Illinois Police Stations Now Offering Safe Spaces For Craigslist Sales

By Lisa White in News on Mar 3, 2015 10:45PM

(Hopefully a safe transaction./Photo: Shutterstock)
Some Illinois police departments are now offering community members a safe space for those selling or buying items on Craigslist— the police station lobby. Sure takes the fun out of attempting to find a total stranger in a crowded and very public Starbucks to barter for their random goods.

Apparently police departments offering their lobbies as "safe havens" for completing online transactions is a national trend. The Tribune reports that Naperville police Cmdr. Ken Parcel announced Monday the department plans to offer buyers and sellers their lobby as a place to connect with each other offline when using Craigslist and other online markets. Parcel pointed out that most Internet-related crime in Naperville involve more impersonal scams, but that the lobby policy is "a preventative measure to ensure there's a safe place to allow (buyers and sellers) to conduct their normal lives and business." He also made it clear that police department staff will not be involved in transactions or oversee them.

The Tribune also points out that a similar announcement happened last month in Peoria, where their police department offered their parking lot and lobby as a safe meeting place "in an effort to deter Craigslist robberies." Meanwhile the Chicago Police Department, in a statement released on Monday, stated there are no dedicated "safe zones" for Craigslist buyers and sellers in the city. Although they did state the following:

"If you plan on buying or selling items via Craigslist or any other online site, the Chicago Police Department suggests that you conduct your transaction at the closest police station to protect both the buyer and seller."

Of course the statement did not specify what specific areas at Chicago police stations would be available for those wishing to conduct business. If you stop by your local station, inquire and receive a blank stare, best make your way to a coffee shop, the homeland of Craigslist interactions. CPD did suggest that transactions take place in a well-lit, public place and that if possible, you should bring someone else with you. So, basically common sense for dealing with strangers.

Maybe it's because we're insanely paranoid and were taught from a young age to never trust strangers, we've felt our developed methods for dealing with Craigslist people are pretty safe. We make sure to meet anyone offline in a well-lit, high-traffic and very public location. We usually take a friend if possible to observe from the sidelines and we text someone before and after the meeting as well. And if it feels fishy, we walk away. Better safe than sorry. The snag we see in this otherwise admirable effort from police is when it comes to larger items. We don't see a seller wanting to drag a massive couch or hefty tube television down to their local police station in the hopes that a. their buyer even shows and b. actually takes said item. But for smaller items, this would be a decent alternative.