Police establish "Exchange Zones" for Craigslist buyers/sellers to meet

Police departments around the country are establishing "safe exchange zones" at police stations for people who buy and sell stuff on Craigslist to meet in person. From the Washington Post:

The practice appears to have started last year in Boca Raton, Fla., spread through central Florida and then through the law enforcement grapevine to police parking lots and lobbies throughout the country. Leesburg and Fairfax City in Northern Virginia have adopted the approach in recent months, as a way to give online buyers and sellers a sense of security when they meet.

"Over the summer of 2014," said Boca Raton Officer Sandra Boonenberg, "we had three or four different robberies where the victim had made arrangements to meet someone to see either an iPhone or a computer. They met them in public places — one happened at a gas station — and they still got robbed. We decided we're going to have to come up with something better, and the chief [Daniel C. Alexander] came up with the idea to use the police department for transactions."

Officers do not get involved or actively monitor the transaction, although many police parking lots and lobbies have surveillance cameras as an added backup. In some smaller departments, such as Fairview Heights, Ill., east of St. Louis, an officer might go outside and meet the buyer and seller just to make public contact and reassure them, Lt. Mike Hoguet said.