The Sheriff's Office and participating police departments will designate a parking spot to be monitored by surveillance cameras at all times.

Online Shoppers Encouraged to Use 'Safe Exchange Zones'

Author: Sheriff's Office
Date: 4/20/2018 12:59 PM

Residents have a new way to protect themselves when meeting to buy or sell items from an online marketplace.

The Sheriff’s Office announced a new program today called the Safe Exchange Zone, which was brought to the Sheriff's Office attention by County District 1 Supervisor John Peschong. The Sheriff's Office and five local Police Departments are participating in the new program. 

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

Beginning today, the Sheriff's Office and participating police departments will designate a parking spot to be monitored by surveillance cameras at all times.

The designated areas will have signs posted and are free to use. Safe exchanges can be made at the following locations:

  • The Sheriff's Office parking lot at 1585 Kansas Ave in San Luis Obispo. 
  • The Arroyo Grande Police Department at 200 N Halcyon Road in Arroyo Grande. 
  • The Grover Beach Police Department parking lot at 711 Rockaway Ave in Grover Beach.
  • The Morro Bay Police Department at 850 Morro Bay Boulevard in Morro Bay. 
  • The Pismo Beach Police Department at 1000 Bello Street in Pismo Beach.
  • The San Luis Obispo Police Department on the street in front of the lobby at 1042 Walnut Street in San Luis Obispo.
  • The Sheriff's North Station parking lot or main lobby at 356 North Main Street in Templeton. (Note: Exchanges done at this location should only happen during business hours, as this location does not have a designated parking spot monitored by surveillance cameras). 

Deputies and officers are not involved in the transactions. However, the nearby presence of law enforcement is expected to reduce anxiety and increase honesty in exchanges. If a transaction does go wrong, law enforcement will have video of the exchange. 

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.