Edmonton police are offering a safe exchange zone at the southwest division station to give citizens a safe place to meet others when selling or purchasing items online.
The zone is part of a pilot program launched to provide a safe space for buyers and sellers of online goods to meet, in response to a growing number of reports of criminal activity in such transactions, said Det. Michael Walkom with the Cyber Crime Investigations Unit.
“[It’s] intended to provide citizens with a safe alternative to placing themselves in potentially vulnerable positions when meeting someone for the first time regarding the sale or purchase of items listed online,” Walkom said in a news release Thursday.
Last year city police made 77 arrests and laid 218 charges in relation to face-to-face buying and selling of items listed online, he said.
“Our investigations led to the recovery of $170,000 in stolen property and 64 arrest warrants being executed, not to mention numerous incidents of violent offences including personal robberies facilitated through these face-to-face exchanges.
“So obviously, there’s a need for this type of initiative,” Walkom said. “If this test pilot is successful at southwest division, we could see the expansion of these safe exchange zones to other police stations across the city.”
Signs indicating the zone have been placed over two parking spots at the public parking lot at the northwest side of the police station division.
Southwest division is at 1351 Windermere Way SW.
The parking spaces will be monitored by video cameras 24/7.
Walkom warns users that neither staff or officers will involve themselves in transactions.
He encourages citizens to use the safe exchange zone during daylight hours. The station is open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A phone that connects users with 911 can be accessed inside the vestibule of the station’s main entrance, should anyone need to report a crime, Walkom said.