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Arkansas police have safe zones for online marketplace exchanges

Meeting a stranger for an online purchase can be dangerous, but police departments have created a safe space for it at their station.

SHERWOOD, Ark. — For many, it’s out with the old after Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

If you’re buying or selling items online, there’s a safe way to do it.

“We made an online exchange zone in our parking lot,” Sherwood Police Department’s Sgt. Tyler Gaunt said.

A tragedy led Sherwood police to create a safe space for online buyers and sellers to exchange items at their station.

“A few years ago, we had one of our residents that was killed in Little Rock selling a motorcycle that he sold on Craigslist,” Gaunt said.

They saw the true danger of meeting a person you don’t know, in a secluded area, to buy things like TV’s and sofas.

“We knew we needed to create a safe online exchange,” Gaunt said.

The parking lot has 24-hour video surveillance and the parking lot lights come on as soon as the sun goes down.

“We’re more than happy to meet anybody to standby while they make the transaction as well,” Gaunt said.

The North Little Rock Police Department has also seen the dangers in people swapping items at homes and private areas.

“Go to a public place where there’s a lot of people, typically like a shopping center, and most definitely a police department,” North Little Rock Police Spokesperson Sgt. Amy Cooper said.

Certain items also pose a larger risk.

“Be especially careful for big-ticket items, vehicles, and things. When you’re dealing with a large amount of money, the potential is there for either a scam or something negative to occur,” Cooper said.

“There’s safety in numbers, right? We’ve always heard that saying. So, always have someone with you. Take your cell phone and if you’re a buyer or a seller, keep record of everything you’re doing,” Cooper said.

Also, keep in mind how quickly it gets dark outside. If you can meet someone before sunset, that’s always the safest option.

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