Safe Meeting Places for Internet Transactions

Safe Meeting Places for Internet Transactions
Posted on 06/02/2015

By Robby Russo - Cottonwood Heights Police Chief 

Buying and selling items on the Internet is a common and growing practice. Unfortunately, so are people who fall victim to someone they agreed to meet on a network site such as Craigslist, EBay or KSL.com.


I remember a local case where a man selling a car met a couple at his home where he was subsequently murdered and robbed.  The pair was later arrested driving the victims’ vehicle. Another example is a woman who was selling a diamond ring met the buyer in a parking lot; he pulled next to the woman’s car and then just drove away with the ring.  You guessed it: the car was also stolen.

Internet sites allow criminals to "target-shop" on the Internet. What makes it so dangerous is when you have to meet the buyer or seller in person.  Savvy criminals can determine the time and place that they will commit the crime, the victim that they're going to pursue and what property and amount of money they're likely to get.  Although locally, murder and robbery are rare, many people are uncomfortable (as they should be) with allowing a stranger into their home. With larger furniture items it’s unavoidable, but it’s the more common transactions such as smart phones, tablets, jewelry and computers that we see the most misdeeds.  

Although there are never any guarantees with criminals, it is best to meet in public places, preferably where there are a lot of people and surveillance cameras can capture a potential crime. In Cottonwood Heights, citizens are welcome to use the public spaces and parking areas at the police department.  We won’t assign officers to monitor or facilitate a private transaction, but there is usually a cop nearby - which usually deters would-be thieves.  Finally, if the buyer/seller only uses email and won’t give you a phone number or you’ve agreed to meet somewhere public, be aware of any last minute change in venue. Those are red flags, and you should walk away.