South Brunswick sets up safe zone for online sales

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SOUTH BRUNSWICK — The South Brunswick Police Department has established a “safe exchange zone” for residents who are selling or buying items online.

People can meet and sell their goods directly out of the police department lobby doors. The spots are marked with a sign which reads “Reserved Parking – Safe Exchange Zone – 15 Min Parking Limit – 24 Hour Monitoring”.

Officers will not be involved or actively monitor the transactions.

“The growth of internet sales from sites like Craigslist and eBay has made it easier for residents to buy or sell items, but it has also opened a new door for criminals. In the past two years we have had 25 reports where residents were defrauded or had suspicious activity as a result of online sales. Many times unsuspecting residents invite a buyer or seller to their home with no idea of who they are meeting. We want to stop the tense moments when strangers must meet to complete the deal by creating a safe exchange zone outside of police headquarters,” Chief Raymond Hayducka said.

Three recent cases highlight some of the challenges of Craigslist, eBay and internet sales, according to a statement released by the department.

In December 2015, a local resident purchased a dirt bike online and met the seller at his house. The resident purchased the dirt bike only to later learn it was stolen from Paterson. In September 2015, a local resident met a man selling a cell phone in a parking lot near the NJ Turnpike. The purchased cell phone later turned out to have been reported stolen in another town.  In February 2015, a man’s cell phone was stolen, and he saw it for sale on Craigslist. He met the seller at a Route 1 business, where the seller was arrested by police.

“We believe that by providing residents with a safe location it will deter criminal activity around these sales,” Hayducka said.