Orange County deputies provide backup for Craigslist sales
Posted May 21, 2015
Hillsborough, N.C. — 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.