Risky online transactions from websites such as Craigslist, where buyers or sellers sometimes fall prey to unscrupulous predators, have prompted action from one South Jersey town.  

In Gloucester Township, Police Lt. Brendan Barton says they offer anyone who is interested the use of their police station parking lot to meet up for online buying or selling.

"There's been a lot robberies, shootings, that have occurred because of these meetings," Barton said. "What we want to do is we wanna encourage people to go to a safe place if you're going to do this. Use your police station. Ours is open 24 hours a day. It's always a safe area, well lit. There's help right around the corner if you need us. That would always be your safe bet."

Police departments are offering their parking lots as safe places for people to finalize internet purchases. (Ingram Publishing, ThinkStock)

That offer from the Gloucester Township Police is not just for residents of the township.  Barton says anyone in need of a safe location to complete an online transaction can use the police station's parking lot. He says he hopes other departments pick up on this as well.

"Your police department in your own town should be willing to do this also," Barton said, adding that the most important thing during these transactions is the safety of those involved.

The Gloucester Township Police Department also offers these safety suggestions for anyone trading online when it necessitates personal contact:

  • Never meet in a secluded area. Insist on a public place;
  • Do not invite a stranger to your home or go to a stranger's house;
  • Tell someone you know where you are going. Bring your phone and if possible, a friend or relative;
  • Use your instinct. If the deal looks too good to be true, it probably is;
  • Be careful during a transaction involving something with a lot of value, such as jewelry or a car.