Norfolk, Va. - From Monster High dolls to Harry Potter movie cards, you can pretty much buy anything off Craigslist and with Christmas just days away, it may be your only option. But Norfolk Police say beware.
"You always have those 11th hour shoppers, the last minute, down to the hour shoppers that are trying to get the last minute gifts for their kids that they could not find in the store," said Corporal Melinda Wray. "So let's say they find it on Craigslist, now they are going to have to meet somebody, somebody they've never met."
Wray says it corners you into a potentially dangerous situation.
"We have robberies occur at these meetings, we've had larcenies occur at these meetings," Wray said.
That is why the department is Taking Action Against Crime and launching a new program designating safe zones for people meeting to make transactions. It's modeled after Chesapeake's "Be Smart, Be Safe" campaign and Virginia Beach's "Find a Safe Place" program.
However, while the department is still working on this new program, officers are getting the word out now that you are more than welcome to make these transactions in their well-lit, video-monitored parking lots.
"Assumingly someone who may have a criminal intent regarding this transaction is not going to want to meet at a police department parking lot," Wray added.
She says if you don't feel comfortable meeting at the police station, be sure to pick a public place that has a lot of foot traffic and is well-lit, just to make sure you stay safe.
Other safety precautions:
- Be very suspicious of the buyer or the seller who changes the agreed upon meeting location
- Always meet the buyer or seller in a public place, with plenty of people around
- Avoid meeting on side streets or places that are not well-lit
- Always take someone with you and inform the buyer and seller that you will not be alone
- Consider conducting the transaction in the police precinct parking lot or lobby