WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange police urge local online shoppers to use safe exchange zones to complete their business in person in order to avoid the scammers who have recently robbed people in nearby East Orange and elsewhere, according to authorities.
Recent robberies in East Orange and other New Jersey towns have triggered local law enforcement to remind residents there are safe places to conduct in-person sales, transactions and exchanges, according to authorities.
Users of the popular online marketplace Craigslist and similar websites are urged to meet in the local police department parking lots and lobbies to handle in-person transactions, authorities said.
East Orange police said they have made several arrests in connection to at least a dozen cases involving exchanges pre-arranged either through Craigslist, Wallapop and Offer UP.
A March 3 case in which shots were fired prompted East Orange police to issue an official warning to unsuspecting out-of-town sellers.
The most recent victims were from Belleville, Clifton, Garfield, Guttenburg, Kearny, Newark, Orange, Passaic and Paterson, authorities in East Orange said. In those cases, physical force was used to take iPhones and sneakers, according to police.
The last incident in East Orange on March 9 was the result of an undercover operation, leading to five arrests and the seizure of a handgun and proceeds from other robberies, authorities in East Orange said.
The West Orange safe zones, created in 2015 to prevent fraud and violence, include the West Orange police headquarters lots and Washington Street and Valley substation lots.
The lobbies of these buildings are also safe zones available to the public 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. With the station house commander’s approval, the lobby at police headquarters is available at night on a case-by-case basis.
Police also note that it is best to engage in in-person transactions during daylight hours and to bring a cell phone in case of emergency.
These persons should notify friends or family when they are meeting someone in person and should never invite strangers to a home or agree to meet at strangers’ homes, police said.
Susan Anderson, West Orange public information officer, encouraged residents to reconsider any transaction with someone who refuses to meet at a police department.