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Boone County police departments create Craigslist ‘safe zones’

BOONE COUNTY (WISH) – Police departments in Boone County are taking the lead on providing a safe place when online transactions require a face-to-face meeting.

“If the wares that you’re selling are legitimate, it shouldn’t be an issue at all,” Chief Dennis Anderson with the Whitestown police department said. “I would certainly think if you have someone who is giving pause to wanting to utilize a location such as this, you might want to rethink that Craigslist purchase.”

Whitestown and Zionsville are both offering use of their municipal buildings as meeting places to give people peace of mind if they buy or sell items on Craigslist or other sites.

“I just want them to think about where they’re going, what they’re doing, and we can certainly offer this up and put it out there for people to think about,” Chief Robert Knox with the Zionsville Police Department said.

The transaction can happen indoors during business hours. If an exchange has to happen after that, it can be done in the parking lot, which provides lighting and video surveillance.

“They’re not going to remote locations that they’re not familiar with or to people’s homes that they’re unfamiliar with, or, even I think more importantly is they’re not having to invite people into their home or to their home that they don’t know,” Anderson said.

Both communities have been toying with the idea for awhile. Recent cases, including two murders in Indianapolis in the last few years that were the result of Craigslist sales gone bad, inspired the practice. Officers say they hope to prevent something like that from happening in their community by offering this service.

“People’s security starts with them, and I just think about this as a safe place they can come to,” Knox said.

The first exchange at a municipal site happened over the weekend, but it was not from an online purchase. A family that wanted to adopt a puppy met the supplier at the Whitestown municipal center over the weekend to complete the adoption.

The Spencer Police Department also offers a safe place for Craigslist transactions.