Petersburg sheriff's sets up safe exchange zone for online transactions

Published: Nov. 15, 2015 at 10:08 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 26, 2015 at 3:09 AM EST
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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - With more people buying and selling items on sites such as Craigslist, local law enforcement is launching an initiative to provide a safe exchange zone for you to make those transactions in person.

The Petersburg Sheriff's Office mentioned in a press release that the effort is to "address safety and awareness concerns regarding internet based purchases from websites like Craigslist and eBay," along with classified groups on Facebook. "While many websites, including those previously mentioned, are very credible and are heavily utilized, their popularity make them an easy target for criminal activity from online predators," the sheriff's office warned.

To be proactive in preventing crime, the sheriff's office now provides a safe exchange zone to "help ensure and enhance their safety and to minimize the opportunity for an encounter to go wrong." There are designated areas in the parking lot for anyone in the Tri-City area to meet for any type of legitimate exchange. The area is constantly under video surveillance and the agency suggests the public to use the lobby of the office for increased security. The location isn't only for online transactions.

"We also encourage the use of the office for parents and caregivers who have concerns regarding child custody transfers," officials stated in a press release. The sheriff's office pointed out in the press release that at least three million children witness acts of domestic violence every year. It encourages you to use the office for a d rop-off and pick-up location during child custody transfers if you have any concern for your safety, or the safety of your child.

In addition, the sheriff's office urges you not to provide any personal or financial information to someone you are meeting to purchase or sell an advertised item from any individual you do not know. "When corresponding with buyers or sellers you are not familiar with, be extra vigilant by electronically disabling all of the location services on your devices and do not send digital photographs with embedded global positioning system (GPS) data," sheriffs said in the release.

This includes disabling the "frequent locations" function located in your security settings on your cell phone.

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