The San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office has joined many in the nation in the creation of Safe Exchange Zones, a monitored location to safely complete online transactions.
Safe Exchange Zones were created with the intention that these purchases can take place “without being ripped off or the fear of violence,” according to the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office.
Participating cities include San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach and Arroyo Grande. The designated spot in San Luis Obispo is located at 1585 Kansas Ave.
The spots are marked with a large sign and have camera surveillance. While law enforcement is not involved in the transactions, police hope it will reduce anxiety and increase honesty in these exchanges, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Students at Cal Poly often use Facebook’s Marketplace as a way to exchange textbooks and additional school supplies. The CP Textbook Exchange has more than 4,000 members who actively buy and sell their used books, and class pages are used for a variety of sales. Larger items can also be found on Craigslist when reaching beyond the student population.
For recreation, parks and tourism administration junior Kensey Nadler, using Craigslist is a positive experience and makes for some really good stories. Having bought her car and other large items through the site, she sees these zones as a positive.
“I think these zones would encourage more people to use the secondhand market, which is good for people and the planet,” Nadler said.
Because the zone is not completely risk free, police recommend taking extra precautions like meeting only during daylight and with a friend if possible, and being extra observant of your surroundings when making an exchange.
The concept of these zones is nothing new, having roots as far back as 2015, according to one Washington Post article. Cities all over the country have set up their own zones. The Craigslist website also encourages exchanging these items in safe and very public locations.
The issues around online exchanges were brought to the Sheriff’s Office’s attention by County Supervisor John Peschong after hearing about these zones across the country. He saw this program as something the community could use as a way to stay safe.
“You know, you hear stories about people buying things online and getting ripped off, and this would be a way to avoid that,” Peschong said.