Escondido Police offer safe meeting space for online transactions
Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp are popular places to sell and buy gently used items. But buyers and sellers then need a place to meet in person to make the exchange.
Escondido Police are now offering a safe designated meetup spot in the parking lot of police headquarters.
“We’re a very well lit parking lot, as well as the security system that we have throughout, the 360-degree perimeter of our police department provides that extra measure of security for folks who want to come by and do their exchanges in a safe place,” said Escondido Police Officer Steve Braucht.
OfferUp approached local police departments about setting up the safe meet up locations.
“They came to us and asked if we were interested in posting these signs and providing a place for people who wanted to do exchanges at a safe place,” Braucht said.
The city of San Diego also has a list of designated online transaction spaces, and other law enforcement agencies have safe trading spots where buyers and sellers can meet under surveillance.
“High definition cameras that can zoom in to get a license plate, get a suspect description of somebody, should they file a claim of being a victim of something to help us initiate an investigation,” Braucht said.
Escondido resident Christine Filipovich used the Escondido location to sell an iPhone and iPad.
“Because those items are both over $100, I didn't feel comfortable just meeting wherever, so I met there and there's cameras and everything, so I felt really safe and secure,” she said.
Filipovich said the designated locations serve as a tool for honest transactions.
“I explained in my sales post that we would be meeting at the police station. So I think that weeded out any scammers. And so anyone that was uncomfortable with that did not respond. And people had no problem with that,” she said.
Braucht said police don’t actively monitor the spots all the time, but dispatch is available if a buyer or seller needs assistance.
He said the meetup spot has been popular and has had zero incidents reported since it was set up.
But he still offers some advice.
“We always encourage people to come to a safe place,“ he said. “And also to just be aware of scams. There’s a lot of scams that are on the internet and people need to be aware of that."
He also suggests to bring a friend if possible and if a deal seems too good to be true, it very well may be.
“Let your conscience be your guide on that,” he said.