BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Bridgeport Police Department is setting up a Safe Spot right in front of headquarters to give the public a place to complete purchases that have been arranged online.
Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez and Sgt. Joseph Szor from the Robbery and Burglary Division of the Detective Bureau are cautioning residents when making internet purchase exchanges.
Assaults have been reported recently against those meeting up to exchange money for goods sold online, they said.
"Criminals will offer something that is too good to be true and they will mislead victims to meet in an unfamiliar, dark place. Unknown to the victim, there will be someone else lying wait,” said Perez. “We are offering the front of our headquarters as a safe, convenient alternative. It is well lit, has cameras and there is always an officer present.”
The Robbery and Burglary Squad of the Detective Bureau have seen a rise in crimes against individuals using “Offer Up,” “CraigsList,” “Let Go” and other similar websites. Criminals are using these sites to lure would-be buyers or sellers of merchandise into locations where they then rob victims who are legally attempting to transact business, they said.
The usual pattern is a potential buyer or seller will answer an ad pertaining to merchandise. The potential buyer or seller is then told to meet at a designated address for the transaction. The buyer (if the criminal) will show up and asked to see the item (this can be anything from an iPhone to a dirt bike).
Once the item is in their possession the other party is brutally assaulted, while the criminal leaves with the stolen goods. If the criminal is the seller, he /she will confirm the buyer is holding the money and brutally assault the buyer to obtain the cash.
In an effort to stop this pattern against innocent parties, the Bridgeport Police Department is designating a space in front of Police Department Headquarters at 300 Congress St. as a SAFE ZONE for persons wanting to legally and safely purchase or sell items.
Bridgeport Police Headquarters will soon have a sign in front of the building, similar to the one of the left, distinguishing it as a “Meet Up Spot” for internet exchanges.
Other departments in the state have set up such zones, including the Darien Police Department.
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