News Local/State

Champaign Police Offer Safe Venue For The Exchange Of Goods Sold Online


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With the growing popularity of websites like Craigslist, it’s becoming more common for strangers to meet and exchange money or goods.

To help make these interactions safer, the Champaign Police Department announced Tuesday the opening of a designated area at the north end of the Champaign police station that will serve as an Internet Purchase Exchange Location

The venue includes two well-lit parking spots, marked by signs, which will be under 24-hour video surveillance.

Patrol Officer Brian Ahsell said he proposed this idea to the police department last year after seeing the different ways internet exchanges can go wrong.

“The person who was selling the goods showed up at a spot and they were just flat-out robbed: somebody either threatened violence or displayed a weapon or something like that and took whatever piece of merchandise they were trying to sell,” he said.

In other cases, he said people would be duped by an electronic payment that fell through.

Ahsell said Champaign has seen an uptick in criminal activity related to the in-person exchange of sales arranged online.

“Now that school’s back in session, it’s becoming more common again,” Ahsell said. “It seems that this type of thing is happening more with our younger generations of citizens.”

The Champaign Police Department urges people insist on meeting in a public location to buy or sell goods instead of going into someone else’s house or allowing them into yours.

The department also advises people use cash or money orders to complete transactions and to try not to go to an exchange alone.

“Trust your instincts,” Ahsell said. “If it sounds like a scam it probably is.”

Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman