Greenville police provide safe space for online sales

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – After a string of robberies connected to online exchanges, the Greenville Police Department decided to take matters into its own hands with a new internet exchange zone.

The idea is that someone can go to one of the exchange zones when they want to meet up with an online buyer. Then if something goes wrong, it is all caught on a camera that records 24/7.

The internet exchange zone areas are at all three Greenville Police Department substations.

“Of course there is some risk any time you meet a stranger to exchange merchandise, but essentially these zones are a place you can come and mitigate some of the risk,” said Lt. David Anderson with Greenville Police Department.

That risk is one the rise. There were four of these types of robberies in a row during the month of November. Arrests were made in those cases.

Officers said those crimes were connected to the Let Go app.

“They were kind of snatch and grab,” said Anderson. “So they would come up and either snatch it out of their hands, or they would ask to see if for a second, and then they would take off running.”

Greenville police can’t take all the credit for the new idea.

They got the idea from the Farmville Police Department out west.

“They wanted to know how we got our internet exchange location started,” said Sgt. Jason Tyndall with the Farmville Police Department.

After a similar uptick in crime, the Farmville Police Department installed their own 24-hour surveillance zone.

After a year and a half, officers called it a success.

“We actually have a lot of people come and use the internet exchange location,” said Tyndall.

Back in Greenville, the police want to have the same success story. Anderson began working on the internet exchange zone initiative in December, and the signs were posted about two weeks ago.

If nothing else, they hope the new zones will at least raise some awareness.

“Never go into a neighborhood unless you’re familiar with the person and the neighborhood,” said Anderson. “If you don’t utilize one of our substations, go to a commercial location.”

Of course, there is no area that is 100 percent safe.

Greenville police said if the person you are meeting up with doesn’t want to exchange items at the police department, you probably shouldn’t meet up at all.

The substations, each with an internet exchange zone, are at the following locations:

West Zone Substation: 1024 W. 5th Street

East Zone Substation: 3195 Suite A, E. 10th Street (behind Little Ceasar’s Pizza and GK Café)

South Zone Substation: 728 Southwest Greenville Bouelvard (in the Greenville Grande shopping center)

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