Buena Park police create a safe zone for money and Craigslist purchases to be exchanged
BUENA PARK Andrea Jung sells items on Craigslist but never meets buyers at her home or workplace.
The 30-year-old goes to a Target or a Starbucks parking lot, carries pepper spray in her pocket and lets her boyfriend know her whereabouts.
So she likes what the Buena Park Police Department unveiled this week two marked-off parking spaces at its headquarters at 6640 Beach Blvd., where Craigslist and other such transactions can play out.
A surveillance camera is pointed at what officers call the Exchange Zone.
Providing a safe and secure place for transactions to take place for strangers is a fantastic idea, the Yorba Linda resident said via email. I feel this will lower the chance of scams and abductions, rapes, murders. Both buyers and sellers will also feel more comfortable.
The Buena Park Police Department is Orange Countys first to create a designated zone for the exchanging of online goods, as far as the agencys officials are aware, in hopes of curtailing theft and online scams stemming from in-person exchanges.
Most of the time, a scammer wont want to do things on the parking lot of a police station, Sgt. Mike Lovchik said.
Each year, Buena Park police receive dozens of reports of in-person exchanges ending in thefts, physical injuries and, in some cases, armed robberies crimes common throughout Orange County.
The sergeant recalled reports of rental cars being sold for profit, items being bought with counterfeit money, and the selling of fraudulent tickets to games, theme parks and concerts.
Though officers will not validate tickets or monitor money in the zone, the department hopes this area offers buyers and sellers a safe haven.
The idea was apparently born in Florida. The area open 24 hours can be used by parents in contentious relationships to exchange children, too.
The parking spaces are lined with reflective paint and well-lit. The surveillance camera can be monitored by police at any time.
Users need not reserve the zone.
We want to be able to provide a more secure way of conducting these online transactions by giving people a safe location to perform them, Lovchik said.