PASCO, Wash.— Craigslist reports well over 80 million ads on its site each month, so even if you haven't met a stranger to buy or sell something online, chances are you know someone who has.
The overwhelming majority of transactions go smoothly, but the site has a history of being exploited by criminals on occasion.
Kennewick police recently arrested a man after a transaction at Columbia Park went awry.
Police say the victim thought they were coming to buy a gaming console, but the seller allegedly pointed a gun at the victim and demanded the cash.
Pasco police are encouraging residents to make these transactions safer, by using their safe exchange parking zone at the Pasco Police Station.
“It’s two spaces that are under the watchful eye of the cameras here at the Pasco Police Department," Sgt. Scott Warren said.
With on duty police and 24-hour surveillance, Warren says this safe exchange zone can help mitigate the risks involved when meeting strangers to buy, sell or trade items.
"It’s one step closer to not being a victim,” he said. “Don’t give someone the opportunity to rob you or assault you for whatever it is you're selling or purchasing from craigslist."
Warren also stresses when making these transactions to never meet at your home, to bring another adult with you to the safe zone, let someone know what you’ll be doing, and to have your cell phone nearby in case of an emergency.
"It's internet safety," he said.
Police encourage people to always take these proper precautions to stay safe and not get swindled.
Richland and Kennewick police departments also stress to use caution and instincts when meeting to buy or sell items with strangers. Neither Kennewick or Richland have these designated safe zones at this time.
“We can’t stress enough to people we serve to make sure they are safe in every aspect they can be,” Sgt. Randy Maynard of Kennewick Police Department said.
Maynard says if you cannot meet at the designated safe zone at PPD to always meet in a busy, public place during the day.