Sheriff’s Office to Provide Safe Zone for Online Transactions
HERNANDO – There is no shortage of horror stories associated with online classified ad meetings, especially when those meetings that take place in unfamiliar or unsafe locations.
Last month, RNRF reported a prime example of what can happen, when caution takes a backseat to trust during one of these meetings.
Anthony Arenz didn’t think twice when he planned to purchase cellphones from a woman who solicited him online; so, the two planned to meet in broad daylight later that week at Tom Varn Park.
Arenz knew something wasn’t right, when the woman arrived in the company of four other men. Minutes later, those men brutally attacked and robbed Arenz of nearly $1,000 and stole his motorcycle.
To help provide a safe environment for online transactions and hopefully prevent another incident like Anthony Arenz’, officials with the Sheriff’s Office say they have a secure solution.
The following is a statement from the Sheriff’s Office:
In an effort to make online transactions safer for both buyers and sellers, the Hernando County Sheriff Office is now allowing citizens to use its lobbies and parking lots to complete sales setup through online sites such as eBay and Craigslist.
The goal of creating these “Safe Zones” is to deter crimes from occurring during such transactions.
Law enforcement agencies in Florida as well as other states have set up similar “Safe Zones” in an effort to make in-person transactions more secure.
“Today’s technology makes it more convenient than ever for sellers and buyers of personal items to find each other,” said Sheriff Al Nienhuis. “Unfortunately, it also has created an opportunity for thugs to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens. We cannot do much about the international scams, but we can provide a safe haven for those wishing to complete these transactions here in Hernando County.”
“If even one honest citizen is spared the trauma of being a victim, the program will be worthwhile,” the Sheriff said. “Citizens should know that if the other party refuses to meet at the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, they are up to no good.”
Citizens are encouraged to utilize the Sheriff’s Office lobby in Brooksville, 18900 Cortez Blvd. and Spring Hill, 7499 Forest Oaks Blvd., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
If transactions need to be completed outside of normal business hours citizens may use the parking lots at both locations, which are well-lit and under 24-hour video surveillance.
If you plan to use either lobby we ask that you check in at the front desk prior to completing your transaction.
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