Posting items for sale in a ‘classified ad’ section is hardly new technology. However, the advent of websites like “Craig’s List” provides an unprecedented level of anonymity for sellers, which has proven dangerous – and deadly – in dozens of criminal incidents over the past several years.
According to national law enforcement statistics, as many as 48 people have been brutally killed in Craig’s List-related transactions since 2009. In Florida, robberies, assaults and murders have occurred with increasing frequency statewide and police are ready to do something about it before another victim is targeted.
Innovative ‘Safe Zones’ Implemented at Area Precincts
In one sobering act of violence, a 30-year veteran of the United States Marines – having lived through several tours of duty – was shot four times in Deerfield Beach following a Craig’s List robbery gone bad. Other Floridians have not been so lucky, and victims have fallen prey to murderous faux-buyers over vehicles, jewelry and even an iPhone.
In the words of Miami-Dade Police Commissioner Sally Heyman, “[g]o to a public place…that’s likely to have cameras and security people.” The Commissioner of the Boca Raton police force reiterated this point by taking it one step further and creating ‘safe exchange zones’ right outside the police building.
In theory, any buyer or seller with a less-than-legal motive will be immediately deterred by the suggestion to make the exchange outside police barracks, saving the other party from a potential tragedy.
Avoiding Problems When Selling Online
Sales transactions initiated online can quickly unravel if one or both parties feel shortchanged or undersold. To avoid unnecessary criminal culpability, which can range from theft allegations to assault (or worse), be sure to reduce all agreed-upon transactions to writing, which should not be difficult considering parties generally communicate via email to seal the deal. Lack of communication is one of the biggest reasons for a conflict, and clearly working through the terms of the deal can help avoid this potentially dangerous situation.
As explained by law enforcement officials above, never ever agree to meet a buyer or seller alone, in a secluded area or anywhere that feels uncomfortable. For some transactions, such as those involving major appliances, vehicles or other heavy machinery, it may be impracticable to meet in a safe exchange zone. However, be sure to bring a trusted friend or family member along for the exchange and always insist upon meeting during daylight hours – and do not be afraid to walk away if something doesn’t ‘feel right.’
Bradenton Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
As Bradenton criminal defense lawyers, we can offer thorough and compassionate representation if you are facing a recent criminal charge. Oftentimes, charges can be negotiated and/or reduced, and we encourage you to reach out to our office today. To make an appointment, call (941) 900-3100 today.