Have you ever been leary of buying something on Craigslist because you didn't want to go to the seller's home? Have you ever been afraid of who the seller might be? The East Chicago Police Department has come up with a great solution: use of their police station.
If you've ever purchased, or considered purchasing, an item on Craigslist, the issue of trust has probably crossed your mind. Buying directly from an individual, with the online classifieds site as a facilitator, can create a win-win scenario where one person can unload a product they no longer want and another can manage to afford a product that would be too costly at an established retailer. Given that there are no guarantees about the site's users, however, one has to question—is this safe? Who is the seller? How do you know s/he is telling the truth? Meeting a complete stranger to make a deal is an unnerving experience, and rightly so: a study done in 2011 called Craigslist a "cesspool of crime", finding 330 crimes, 12 murders, and 105 robberies or assaults in the U.S. during the prior year that were related to the popular classifieds site. There are even movies about "The Craigslist Killer".
The East Chicago Police Department is now offering Craigslist users their parking lot and lobby as a meeting place for these transactions, thereby also offering a bit of peace of mind. "Operation Safe Sale", as authorities had dubbed it, aims to provide the Northwest Indiana city's residents a secure place to conduct cash transactions arranged online. The Police Department is hoping to have an officer available to oversee these meet-ups six days a week, allowing citizens the security of supervision but also giving officers an opportunity to check if items for sale had been reported stolen. The lobby and parking lot will also be available as a meeting place any time, even when there are no officers present.
It seems highly unlikely that a criminal, or an individual planning on committing a crime, would be willing to meet their target on the premises of a video-monitored police department. At least in East Chicago, citizens can feel comforted that the option offers them an opportunity to test the person on the other side. If you ask a person to make an exchange in the parking lot of the police department and suddenly they lose interest in the deal, you may have saved yourself some danger.