Towns Create Safe Zones For Internet Purchases

Stafford Police created a “safe zone” where folks buying from others online can transact in safety. Lacey and South Toms River have ones too. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

OCEAN COUNTY – Stafford and Lacey townships have created internet safe zones for their residents to trade purchases made online with strangers.

With people doing more and more of their shopping online, it was important for them to have a safe place to drop off products and make trades, officials said. With sites such as Craigslist, there are a lot of good transactions going on every day, but people never know who they are dealing with.

Stafford Councilman Alan Smith announced at the March 28 Township Council meeting that two parking spaces by the municipal building at 260 East Bay Avenue will be set aside for these transactions. “The entire trade will be done on camera.”

Photo by Chris Lundy

Stafford Police Chief Thomas Dellane said that this project was part of the community policing work to respond to the needs of the residents.

“When people are buying or selling something on the internet, they need a safe place to do it,” he said. “People are uncomfortable inviting people into their houses.”

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The Lacey spot is in the front parking lot of the police department, located at 808 West Lacey Road. This spot was chosen because it is well-lit and under surveillance cameras. It began on March 24.

“Sometimes, transactions on Craigslist, Ebay and other online sites are too good to be true, and unfortunately they can sometimes be very dangerous,” a report from Lacey police read. “It is important to remember that people you meet online are strangers and can be dangerous.”

Recommended by Mayor Peter Curatolo, it was quickly made a reality by Chief Michael DiBella. The police noted that they will not be able to help in any transactions or act as witnesses, give legal advice, or settle disputes. Additionally, they reminded that transactions involving any type of weapons or drugs are prohibited.