MILLTOWN, NJ - With the popularity and convenience of online sales exchange sites such as website yard sales and Craig's List, the Milltown Police Department has set up a Safe Exchange Zone for residents to utilize.
"Recent national and local incidents have indicated that in-person sales, transactions and exchanges originating from online marketplaces such as Craigslist and on-line garage sales have experienced an increase in violence, fraud and theft by deception," Milltown Police Chief Brian Knelle stated in a recent press release from the department. "In an effort to promote safer transactions between strangers, we are encouraging residents to use their local police department as a meeting place for in-person transactions to occur."
In order to facilitate a safer environment, the Milltown Police Department has created a Safe Exchange Zone for residents participating in in-person sales or exchanges with unknown parties. The Safe Exchange Zone is now located on the side of the Milltown Municipal Building on Washington Avenue next to the Milltown Police Department and Municipal Court entrance. It is available daily to residents from 8:20 a.m. and 11 p.m.
However, the area is not designed for Milltown police officers to be present for any transactions.
"The video surveillance and proximity to police personnel is meant to increase the public's peace of mind when engaging in such transactions with unfamiliar individuals," Knelle continued.
A large sign above the public bench in the Safe Exchange Zone states that the area is under video surveillance and also includes a disclaimer and rules.
Some of the safety suggestions listed on the sign by the Milltown Police include:
- Conducting in-person transactions with strangers during daylight hours
- Having a cell phone in case something goes wrong
- Making sure to notify someone of your meeting ahead of time
- Never invite a stranger to your home for an in-person transaction or exchange
- Never conduct such a transaction at a stranger's home
- Think again about conducting an exchange or transaction with an individual that reluctant to meet at a police station
Last year a Facebook-arranged exchange got a lot of attention in Virginia, when a man seeking to sell his Xbox to two teens, was instead robbed of his merchandise and ended up with an injured hand after attempting to stop the prospective buyers from leaving the scene.
Another incident occurred last week in Texas when two men attempting to sell a cell phone were robbed by the pair they were selling the phone to. This transaction ended up with one death and an injury when the sellers pulled out a gun to protect themselves.
"The Safe Exchange Zone is another way the police department is trying to keep the safety of the public in mind, given the advances in technology and the internet," Knelle said.
The Milltown Municipal Building is located at 39 Washington Avenue.