Future Tense

Police Stations Increasingly Offer Safe Haven for Craigslist Transactions

The police department in Columbia, Missouri, announced Wednesday that its lobby will be open 24/7 for people making Craigslist transactions or any type of exchange facilitated by Internet services. The decision fits into a broader trend that has been gaining traction over the past couple of years.

Internet listings like Craigslist are, of course, a quick and convenient way to buy, sell, barter, and generally deal with junk. But the worst part about using them is actually having to meet someone and navigate the moment of trust when money changes hands. The item being sold could be broken or fake, and the money being used to buy it could be counterfeit. Or something even more sinister could go on.


In Columbia, people can’t buy and sell weapons in the police department lobby, but anything else is fair game. Columbia Police public information officer Bryana Maupin told the Missourian that the police department lobby has surveillance cameras running 24 hours a day, plus the obvious bonus of a constant police presence. “People with stolen items may not want to meet at the police department,” she said.

On Tuesday, Virginia Beach police announced a similar policy, called “Find a Safe Place,” that will open the four local police precinct lobbies as safe transaction points between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The East Chicago and Boca Raton police departments also created similar policies during 2014. It’s certainly a step up from meeting in a Starbucks.