WALLINGFORD — Meeting strangers to complete online transitions just got safer for residents.
Wallingford Police announced Thursday the designation of a handful of parking spaces outside the police department as a “safe exchange zone” where people can meet strangers to exchange items purchased or sold online. The zone will include three regular and two handicapped parking spaces in front of the department’s building, 135 N. Main St.
Other police departments in the state, such as Hartford, already incorporate similar areas.
“If something is going to make people feel safer, we’re on board,” Police Chief William Wright said.
The parking spaces, which are well-lit and under surveillance 24/7, make for ideal safe exchange spaces, Wright added.
Though Wright said as far as he knows Wallingford police have never received a complaint of someone being attacked while completing a purchase, the department wants to take measures to prevent crime.
The idea for the safe exchange zones was originally presented to Wright by Town Councilor Chris Shortell. Shortell said he saw a need for the zones in light of the many residents who exchange items on town commerce Facebook groups like “Second Time Around Wallingford.”
“It’s nice to know you have the option to go to a safe space to make your transaction,” Shortell said.
According to research by the Advanced Interactive Media Group, an industry watchdog and analyst, more than 100 murders have been linked to online classified ad site Craigslist in the United States.
In 2015, the Hartford Police Department launched a similar initiative, called “Operation Safe Lot,” after a Cromwell man was fatally shot in Hartford while trying to sell electronics he posted on Craigslist, the Hartford Courant reported.
On Thursday, Wallingford police issued a statement that urged the public to “use caution when conducting online selling and buying transactions with anonymous persons.”
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