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Orange County deputies provide backup for Craigslist sales

Posted May 21, 2015

— Buying and selling transactions that start on Craigslist eventually end up in the real world, and that's where they get tricky. The online marketplace can also be breeding ground for criminals.

Regular Craigslist shopper Louie Tatum knows the rewards and the risks. He's bought more than 100 items from the site, but he's also seen the criminal side.

"My son was selling some shoes on Craigslist and was supposed to wait for me to make the exchange in a store," Tatum said.

Instead, his son allowed the buyers to come to their home. They stole the shoes and fled, eventually crashing off of Old Cole Mill Road.

While many law enforcement agencies offer tips to protect yourself when meeting a stranger to exchange goods and money, the Orange County Sheriff's Office is going a step further.

They have created a "safe zone" for transactions. Sellers can arrange to meet buyers in the sheriff's office parking lot or step into the lobby where a deputy is standing by.

Sheriff Charles S. Blackwood says he got the idea from other departments around the country that have similar programs and after hearing stories of Craigslist transactions gone bad.

Blackwood said the safe zone offers protection to both sellers, like Tatum, and buyers with questions about the authenticity of the goods offered online. Deputies can check serial numbers to see if an item has been reported stolen.

According to Blackwood, the Hillsborough Police Department is considering adding a safe zone of its own.


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  • Charlie Jaxon May 22, 2015
    user avatar

    I hear people getting robbed when doing sells on CL all the time. Most are for shoes. They meet the person selling them and they snatch the shoes and run. It's usually 4-5 kids that are doing it. One person met them at a library and was robbed. I guess working is out of the question nowadays.

  • Steve Fitzpatrick May 22, 2015
    user avatar

    this is a very good Idea. I buy and sell on GL
    and never had a problem but it's always on my mind. i usually meet at a walmart or big box store that has outside cameras in the parking lot

  • Terry Watts May 21, 2015
    user avatar

    Sweet!!! I've never had an issue buying or selling on CL, but I'll keep this in mind next time I choose to make a transaction via CL! Thanks OC Coppers!

  • Dean Morron May 21, 2015
    user avatar

    Great idea …. a proactive thought and a good deed by our neighboring police department. More police agencies should follow suit.