Motivated by the strings of crimes powered by Craigslist and other similar sites - robberies, scams and killings have all popped up over the last few years - police and sheriff’s departments nationwide are carving out areas of their stations to act as commerce completion zones.
From Florida to Texas, at least 70 departments nationwide have created such areas - usually in their lobbies and parking lots - that act as a deterrent to criminals. It's one thing to rob someone - it is another matter entirely to be bold enough to do so on police property in front of a pile of cameras.
Skeptics, however, are not sold and think police have opened themselves up to unnecessary liability should a transaction go wrong. When the Miami-Dade County commission in Florida discussed a resolution in February, Commissioner Barbara Jordan complained.
“Do we want to take on that responsibility?” she asked, according to The Wall Street Journal. “We’re opening up Pandora’s box.”
It does, however, seem someone should be taking this responsibility, especially with Craiglist's recent reputation for drawing violent criminals.
According to the AIM Group, a classified-ad consultancy, 87 killings tied to Craigslist have occurred since 2007. Last year saw 22 of those murders, and 2015 has brought six so far.
Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist’s chief executive, has accused AIM Group of overstating its case.
As of yet, law-enforcement officials said they can not determine whether the zones are reducing crime, but some contend initial results are promising.
In Coral Springs, Florida, where a Craigslist sale resulted in a murder last year - police have had no robberies or incidents related to online marketplaces since February, when the local department made its parking lot available for transactions.
“Better safe than sorry,” the department wrote on its Facebook page, according to WSJ. “Legitimate buyers and sellers will have no issue meeting you [at the station]."
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