Residents utilizing online classified sites like Craigslist can also utilize 2 well lit spaces in the Police Department's parking lot or the Police Department lobby as safe places to meet online buyers or sellers to conduct a transaction. Both locations are monitored by surveillance cameras.
Police officers will not become involved in the transactions unless police intervention is required.
As of July 2015, the San Marcos Police Department is the latest agency to join the SafeTrade program.
In addition to Craigslist type exchanges, child custody exchanges can also be done in the safe zone. Another suggestion is meeting individuals to exchange contact information before renting a home.
SafeTrade offers a few tips for a successful exchange:
Ask for proof of the seller's identity. Take a photo with a cell phone.
If you're carrying a large sum of cash, either before or after the transaction, don't make it obvious, and be careful to ensure that you're not followed after the transaction.
Beware of common scams, like checks for an amount higher than the amount of the deal; "cashier's checks" that are forged and presented when the bank is closed.
If you are given a cashier's check, money order or other equivalent, call the bank - at the number listed online, not a number the buyer gives you - to verify the validity of the check.
"While there have been some high profile national cases of serious crimes during these types of transactions, our department has not seen a significant number. But, we do want to take a very proactive approach by preventing them before they can happen," said Police Chief Chase Stapp. "If someone has plans of ripping you off or commit a crime, it's highly unlikely they will do it in a police department parking lot."