Sheriffs in AL, GA counties introduce 'safe exchange zone' for online sales

Published: Mar. 17, 2016 at 4:05 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 18, 2016 at 2:53 PM EDT
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Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley in front of the sign at his sheriff's office. (Instagram...
Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley in front of the sign at his sheriff's office. (Instagram screenshot)

(WTVM) - Two area sheriffs have put into place "safe exchange zones" at their offices to ensure secure pick-up areas for residents.

Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley and Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor both announced on social media about these new zones at their sheriff's offices.

In Harris County, buyers can call on a deputy to check the serial number on the item to make sure it's not stolen. Jolley posted the picture of the sign on his Instagram page on Tuesday.

In Russell County, the area will have 24 hour monitoring to ensure the safety of the citizens. The zones can also be used as a drop-off location for parents who share custody of children.

"I read about the Safe Exchange Zone where another sheriff's office put this in place for their citizens, a few months ago," Taylor wrote on Facebook. "I thought that it would be a great idea to give our citizens a Safe Exchange place for custody exchanges, buying and selling exchanges, etc."

The safe exchange zone is to help protect those who participate in online sales of goods through websites, like Craigslist. They are established to combat thefts in online exchanges from strangers.

According to the Washington Post, the safe exchange zones seem to have started in Boca Raton, FL in 2014.

Several murders have been linked recently to people answering Craigslist ads and other internet sale exchanges.

That's why two local sheriffs, on both sides of the Chattahoochee River have set up 'safe exchange zones' to prevent those types of tragedies from happening locally.

The zones is to help protect those who participate in online sales through the web. They also could help stop thefts while exchanging from strangers and keep situations from turning violent.

A Marietta couple was killed early last year when they showed up to buy a 1966 mustang they saw in an ad on Craigslist. Police found their bodies hundreds of miles from home.

Then, a few weeks later, an Atlanta area man was robbed and shot by suspects who posted an ad for an i-phone online.

"We find out they have been getting ripped off or buying stolen property or just meeting people and getting their money stolen. Its a concern of ours here in the county," said Sheriff Mike Jolley.

"I think it's a great idea and I did it for our community and I hope people feel safe and use it," said Sheriff Heath Taylor.

With the signs in place this week, each agency has two spots that will be monitored by cameras 24 hours a day.

"This day and time you never what's going on in people's mind," said Jolley.

So far, most of the response on social media has been positive about safe exchange zones in different areas.

Buyers can also call on a deputy to meet them outside and they'll run the the serial numbers of an item to make sure it's not stolen.

The signs were at no cost to residents.

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