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The Internet

Police Stations Increasingly Offer Safe Haven For Craigslist Transactions 145

HughPickens.com writes: Lily Hay Newman reports at Future Tense that the police department in Columbia, Missouri recently announced its lobby will be open 24/7 for people making Craigslist transactions or any type of exchange facilitated by Internet services. This follows a trend begun by police stations in Virginia Beach, East Chicago and Boca Raton. Internet listings like Craigslist are, of course, a quick and convenient way to buy, sell, barter, and generally deal with junk. But tales of Craigslist-related assaults, robberies, and murders where victims are lured to locations with the promise of a sale, aren't uncommon. Also, an item being sold could be broken or fake, and the money being used to buy it could be counterfeit.

"Transactions should not be conducted in secluded parking lots, behind a building, in a dark location especially when you're dealing with strangers. Someone you've never met before – you have no idea what their intentions are – whether they have evil intent or the best of intentions," says Officer James Cason Jr. With surveillance cameras running 24 hours a day, plus the obvious bonus of a constant police presence, meeting in the lobby of the police department can help weed out people trying to rip others off. "People with stolen items may not want to meet at the police department," says Bryana Maupin.
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Police Stations Increasingly Offer Safe Haven For Craigslist Transactions

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  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @06:20AM (#48950717)

    Take a cut?

    • Re:Do the cops (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 01, 2015 @06:29AM (#48950725)

      Why would they? It's a lot cheaper for them to be in the building where they normally are than cleaning up after a crime has been committed. Plus it's an opportunity to look good.

      A single incident can cost a lot more for them than just having an officer on hand when the transaction takes place. It's not like they're checking IDs and doing background checks here.

      The point is to get them into the police station to at least weed out the career criminals that the cops already know about when possible.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Now we just need to pass a law stating that a duty is to be collected on all such in-person transactions with random strangers organized over the internet in order to help fund law enforcement protection.

        If law enforcement is present, they should collect a percentage of the transaction with a minimum $5 transaction fee, before goods or money are allowed to change hands.

        If law enforcement is not present and the transaction is done on the seller's property, the tax should be a minimum of $30 transaction

      • Re:Do the cops (Score:5, Informative)

        by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @11:54AM (#48951549) Homepage

        A single incident can cost a lot more for them than just having an officer on hand when the transaction takes place. It's not like they're checking IDs and doing background checks here.

        I doubt they even have an officer on hand. I live in Columbia and I know which lobby they are talking about. It's a small room at the
        entrance to the police headquarters. It's basically a small concrete room with several cameras. The only thing in the room is a teller
        window (which will presumably be closed) and a couple doors leading elsewhere. There is probably an alarm button too which would
        definitely get someone there in a hurry (as that is their main station where they park their cars so someone is always there).
        It's a good move as it basically costs them nothing. I'm actually surprised that it wasn't already open 24/7. The lobby of our post
        office across the street I'm pretty sure is already open 24/7. The only real reason not to keep it open 24/7 is to prevent vandalism
        but you would have to be pretty stupid to go and try to vandalize a police station full of cameras even if noone was present.

        When I've done craigslist transactions, I've always met at a bank or a gas station as I know both have security cameras but if you're
        really worried, the police station is better, and as the article mentions, just by the location it should reduce illegal and stolen transactions
        as very few criminals would be comfortable selling something stolen in a police station.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        It would not hurt for the police at those locations to sponsor the presence of applicable approved charities. People are there, they are making a safe transaction and they can in return a bit to the community by supporting what ever charity has been cleared by the police. Creating more social roles for the police along with dropping the misnomer "Law Enforcement" will help to rebuild relations with the public. The first role for a police officer, basically someone who is meant to act as an exemplary citize

    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      Not yet, but expect 5-10% protection fees in the future.

  • by icejai ( 214906 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @06:29AM (#48950729)

    ... for civil asset forfeiture.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Unless you happen to be black. If so, better be careful when getting out your wallet to make a purchase.

  • Genius Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kinarduk ( 734762 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @06:51AM (#48950767)
    It's great seeing the police "get it". What a great idea, I hope it takes off!
    • Re:Genius Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 01, 2015 @09:53AM (#48951123)

      It sounds like a great idea. A safe place for people to go to etc... I hope the idea spreads to other countries. The police (in many countries) do want to be seen as part of the community because they are (or should be). Its why the police (in many countries) try to do so called promotional community initiatives etc.., because they are a part of the community (and are suppose to be) there to protect the community. (Unfortunately the police are (in many countries) all too often caught between community and politicians (who really work against the community because they want to control it). So the police are faced with two conflicting goals. The goal of being there to protect the community, and the goal the politicians want them to be, which all too often is subvert the police into being their private army to suppress and control political dissenters and the community in general).

      The more the police stand up for and are part of the community (in every country) the better for all of us. (Of course the politicians (in every country) won't like that (at least hidden from us behind our backs they won't like it, so to speak), but hey, the politicians claim to represent us or at least the politicians claim to represent us when they want us to vote them back into power. (Although the only ones who truly give the appearance of completely believing that any more, are the ones who secretly seek to gain from getting a group of politicians into power).

      Anyway, the more the police move away from the politicians and are truly on the side of the community the better for all of us. We need the police to feel more a part of the community, because they need to feel better able to standing up to protect the community. So this helpful move by the police sounds like a great idea.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Agreed, great idea! In my city last year we had a terrible case where a gentleman was interested in purchasing a car. He was home with his family and stepped out of the house to meet a potential craigslist seller and take a "5 minute test drive". The police/city began a massive search but the leads were thin and his body was recovered a little later and the murderers were found and charged.

      Holding the transactions at a station isn't only good in the sense of the transaction that day; it also creates a re

  • Craigslist Killers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Peachy ( 21944 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @08:04AM (#48950903)

    Great idea. Working through my backlog of WIRED magazines and was only reading about the bizarre case of the Craiglist Killers last night.

    http://www.wired.co.uk/magazin... [wired.co.uk]

    • I wonder if Craigslist gets too much bad publicity here because of their Worldwide presence.

      There are other venues available for those wishing to meet & kill a stranger, even down to every local paper's classified section, though those numbers would be slightly more difficult to compile.

      Though you shouldn't bet on it, as there are some thinking-challenged folks out there stealing for fun and profit, most criminals would avoid the police station for any transaction possible. Generally they have bad me

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @08:45AM (#48950987) Journal

    This is great. This is the sort of thing a safety force should be doing. I hope more police organizations will consider actually providing useful public services like this!

  • Such police guarded "flee market" is only necessary if you have to assume that it is very common that people try to rip you off.
    How broken must a country be that the police has to provide something like that? That implies that you generally cannot trust anybody (beside the police). For a society which requires cooperation and trustworthiness to function, this is a big crisis. And you should fix it. However, it might be helpful that the police tries to provide grounds where such trust can be developed, again

    • You are remarkably naive to think that this represents something 'new' in any society.

      Those cave pictures withe the hands and the animals - perhaps you thought they represented something philosophically interesting. Perhaps a statement of early man's domination over his environment. A way for the artist to identify his painting.

      No, it was more likely that that Ogg was stating something along the lines of 'My horses! My ungulates! Keep your furry paws away from my stuff you Neanderthal!"

      Those who do not

      • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

        Trust is a required ingredient for any business. While it is true that in human history not everyone has behaved trustworthy. Otherwise we would not have ever required something like police and laws and regulations. It is also true that a certain amount of trust is necessary. For example, on a flee market (as an IRL type of craiglist) people can trade goods in the open and normally you don't get ripped off. When we sell items over ebay 'small ads' people normally come by and pic it up and from personal expe

        • "Trust is a required ingredient for any business." No it isn't. I can and have made business dealings with no thought of trusting my opposite at all. That's what contracts are all about.
          • by j-beda ( 85386 )

            "Trust is a required ingredient for any business." No it isn't. I can and have made business dealings with no thought of trusting my opposite at all. That's what contracts are all about.

            I would disagree, you would be a fool to enter into a business relationship with someone you do not have at least a bit of trust in. The contract gives you some potential way of recovering some of your costs if things go bad, and raising the cost to both parties in behaving badly, but the contract doesn't really protect you from someone really trying to rip you off. You need to trust: that they are who they say that they are; that you will be able to find them afterwards if things go badly; that they will e

          • That just means you've shifted your trust from your opposite to your legal system and enforcement authorities.
          • What a contract is best at is laying things out so everybody knows what's expected and it's clear who'd win any lawsuit. If you have to actually file suit, you've lost on that transaction, because even if you win and are awarded what you ask for plus attorney's fees, and you even manage to collect in full, you've been through a lot of hassle and stress.

            If you don't trust somebody even a little, doing business with a contract is still a bad idea. If you think the other guy will mostly stick to the contr

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Its a country where everyone can do whatever the hell they want short of stealing at gunpoint, rape and murder, and get away with it. If you're not happy, you're told to "grow a thicker skin". Pretty much anyone from anywhere can come in and live there. If you think that's wrong, you're racist. Anything goes in the name of religion. Anything goes in the name of money. This is the place where when in Mass, they realized the law didn't stop people from taking upskirt pictures, and the law was changed, a seisa

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not sure I'd be comfortable doing it in the police station lobby.

    • Heh heh...maybe not Backpages,

      but I can see other other firms and venues piggybacking on this if it becomes widespread.

  • I wonder if there will unintended consequences.

    You can't easily sell large items in the cop shop lobby.

    If you owned a vehicle large enough to haul them and were willing to put up with the headache of having to lather, rinse, repeat in dealing with the usual cast of Craigslist tire-kickers and last-minute hagglers and their manifold gimmicks for trying to pay less than the previously agreed price you maybe could haul the items to the cop shop and use their premises for the exchange.

    But I'd wager most people

  • by John Hughes ( 3419913 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @09:41AM (#48951085)
    In the Los Angeles area, child custody swaps are handled like this. When there is an unhappy divorce arrangement the courts have a room at local police stations set up for multiple family child visitation exchanges. Moms and children on one side of the room and Dads on the other. Then the children walk across the room.
  • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @10:34AM (#48951243)

    Had the buyer meet me in the lobby of my bank, transaction was in cash. Called my insurance agency before the guy test drove the car and had him leave the money with me. When the deal was done I deposited the cash, sent a CYA email to the insurance agency cancelling as of that time and date, went out, pulled the tags, tossed the dude the keys. Sketchily, he whipped out some Delaware tags (we were not in Delaware and he said he was from a different state but this was not my problem) and drove away. Seemed like a pretty safe way to do business.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Had the buyer meet me in the lobby of my bank, transaction was in cash. Called my insurance agency before the guy test drove the car and had him leave the money with me. When the deal was done I deposited the cash, sent a CYA email to the insurance agency cancelling as of that time and date, went out, pulled the tags, tossed the dude the keys. Sketchily, he whipped out some Delaware tags (we were not in Delaware and he said he was from a different state but this was not my problem) and drove away. Seemed like a pretty safe way to do business.

      Sounds pretty paranoid, I thought all of those guns in the US were supposed to be making you safer than Australia.

      I've bought and sold cars using Gumtree (which is kind of like Craigslist but more useful and less hookers) and the procedure is fairly simple.
      1. Buyer contacts seller, arranges time to meet at sellers house.
      2. Buyer goes to sellers house, test drives car.
      3. If they want to buy, they arrange payment (usually cash for small amounts, bank cheque for larger amounts), give it to the seller

      • by RyoShin ( 610051 )

        Sounds pretty paranoid, I thought all of those guns in the US were supposed to be making you safer than Australia.

        The best way to survive a bad situation, guns or no, is to avoid it in the first place.

    • by Raenex ( 947668 )

      I sold my car on Craigslist. Guy came to my home with his brother, test drove the car, and paid cash. The end.

  • Obviously, some people have a different definition of "uncommon" than I do.

    • by Hasaf ( 3744357 )

      Well, to give the OP the benefit of the doubt, the "tales" are not uncommon at all. As for actual incidents . . . yep, those rare pretty rare. . .

  • Not a bad idea. Probably saves a lot of aggravation and cuts down on the number of investigations.
  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @11:25AM (#48951397)
    Man, this comments section is depressing.

    "If you'd feel more comfortable buying your iPod at our Police Station go ahead."
    "Thanks - As a teenage girl, that does make me feel more comfortable."

    FASCISTS!!!
  • I park right in front of Starbucks and meet prospective sellers or buyers inside. If I'm buying an item, they have to bring it inside with them. No "it's in the car a couple blocks over down this alley". I get there a little early to case the joint and get a coffee. Adjust for items that can't easily be carried into Starbucks. (No, you park right here. I'm not going to park down that alley.)

    I've had zero issues so far. Where I think people get into trouble is when they want the sale so badly that the

  • This venue is not recommend for commercial transactions initiated through the "personals" section of Craigslist.

  • Who are you Hugh Pickens?

    And are you any relation to Slim?

  • It at least protects the parties from possible physical harm. But it's still quite possible to get taken for a ride--in a police station.

    Even when doing business with someone you don't know, it's possible to look for, and read, clues as to the kind of person you are dealing with. Do they call back when promised? Do you notice any "little lies"? Does the story change over time?

    I've bought personal vehicles on Craigslist for years, and there are a lot of good clues. For example, when you ask whether the

  • Bart and Caltrain stations in broad daylight have always worked well for me. Same goes for major public transit facilities in any city. Granted my transactions tend to be limited to computer hardware and automobiles.

    Don't think I'd feel comfortable meeting someone at a pig fortress, just to buy/sell a laptop. Adds unnecessary risk to otherwise routine business.

  • The enforcement of sales tax on high-value items.
  • I hadn't heard about this, and I live here. Nice. I wonder if there will be officers there, though, considering accident reports have to be filed online if nobody was hurt, presumably to save on staff costs.

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