Crime

Cary creates safe place to complete Internet sales

Cary has posted this sign in the police department parking lot where people can complete Internet sales while being monitored by cameras.
Cary has posted this sign in the police department parking lot where people can complete Internet sales while being monitored by cameras.

The town has become the latest community in the Triangle to offer a safe place for buyers and sellers to meet to complete online sales through Craigslist and other sites.

Cary’s “Swap Spot” consists of two designated parking spaces behind the police department at 120 Wilkinson Ave., that are monitored by a video camera 24 hours a day. People also can use the police department lobby to make transactions between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

The town is careful to point out that police won’t be involved in the transaction and may not be watching when it takes place. But the parking spaces are among the town’s police cars at Town Hall campus.

“You basically have officers coming and going at all times,” said Senior Police Officer Artie O’Brien. “And we have the video monitor 24 hours a day, so if something were to happen, we could go back in time.”

Swap spots are gaining popularity across the country to counter crimes that occur when strangers meet after ostensibly agreeing to buy and sell goods over the Internet. According to a study by Law Street, a media website focused on law and policy data, 45 people were killed in Craigslist-related crimes across the country from 2009 to June 2014. A report by the AIM Group, a consulting firm specializing in classified advertising, said Craigslist also has been linked to thousands of rapes, robberies and scams.

At least a half-dozen other Triangle law enforcement agencies offer safe places to complete Internet transactions, including Apex, Durham County, Garner, Morrisville, Orange County and Wake Forest.

For information about Cary’s safe place, search “Swap Spot” at www.townofcary.org or call 919-469-4019.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling

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