GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro police are worried about a summer spike in crime tied to the popular website Craigslist.
They’re asking those who use the site to buy and sell from strangers to use their police substations to make the transactions.
“People think, ‘If I’m meeting someone in a parking lot it’s safe because it’s out in the open,’” said E.Y. Watkins, a crime prevention officer with the city of Greensboro.
Watkins said they’ve responded to a handful of assaults and robberies over the last year tied to Craigslist transactions. Police said the more free time people have to be online, the more the potential safety issues.
“If someone has bad intentions for you, they're less likely to come to a police station to make those things happen,” said Watkins.
The headquarters substation at 320 Federal Place in downtown Greensboro is open around the clock, well lit and the lobby has both employees and cameras.
There are three other police substations: Eastern Division (1106 Maple Street), Southern Division (2602 S. Elm-Eugene Street), and Western Division (300 S. Swing Road). They are also available during normal business hours.
Police said you can help avoid dangerous situations by paying attention to what kind of questions a potential criminal is asking you while arranging to meet.
“You may have someone who talks more about the location of where they want to make the exchange rather than the object that they're trying to sell,” said Watkins. “That's a red flag.”
Police also suggest talking to a potential buyer or seller on the phone and not to simply rely on email exchanges before meeting.
Finally, if you’re not going to use a police station to finish the deal, take a friend with you.