Released: April 20, 2018 - Friday, 12:17 PM

Safe Exchange Zone

Contact: Tony CipollaPhone: (805) 781-4547Date and time of incident: 4-20-18, 10 AMPlace of Occurrence: San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's OfficeVictim Information: N/ASuspect Information: N/AThe Sheriff’s Office is announcing a new way to protect residents when meeting to buy or sell items from an online marketplace. It’s called the Safe Exchange Zone. It was brought to our attention by County Supervisor John Peschong. The Sheriff’s Office and five local Police Departments are participating in the new program.

It’s designed to increase safety while buying and selling goods through sites like Craigslist and Facebook's Marketplace. There is a designated spot for individuals to complete these transactions, without being ripped off or the fear of violence.

Beginning on 4-20-18, The Sheriff's Office and participating Police Departments will have a designated parking spot which is monitored by surveillance cameras at all times. Participating Police Departments include the San Luis Obispo Police Department, Grover Beach Police Department, Pismo Beach Police Department, Morro Bay Police Department and Arroyo Grande Police Department.

Deputies and officers are not involved in the transactions, however the presence of law enforcement nearby will hopefully reduce anxiety, and increase honesty in exchanges. If a transaction does go wrong, law enforcement will have video of the exchange. The designated areas will have signs posted, and are free to use.

Although the Safe Exchange Zones will be a safer place to meet, there are still some things to keep in mind when using them:
• Consider meeting only during daylight hours, and telling a friend or family member when and where you're going.
• Be aware of your surroundings.
• Sellers should look out for counterfeit money or forged checks, while buyers should be wary of stolen, broken, or fake goods.
• It is a good practice to save the listings and contact information of the seller in case you need to report a problem. If problems
occur, report them to the site used, as well as any criminal activity to your local law enforcement agency.
• If someone refuses to meet at a Safe Exchange Zone, it may not be a legitimate transaction.

As e-commerce gains in popularity, the need for Safe Exchange Zones becomes more apparent. This is just another way law enforcement is responding to the changes in how people conduct business over the internet and in person.