Cheektowaga police launch safety initiative to assist online buyers and sellers


CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – People who buy and sell online now have a new place to carry out transactions safely.

Starting today—the Cheektowaga police department on Union Road has linked up with SafeTrade Stations, a program for law enforcement agencies that strengthens the safety and security of people buying and selling via classified ads.

“This is a great location to do it. It makes the most sense. Everyone’s safe,” said Cheektowaga police Lt. Brian Coons.

The suburban agency joins a growing list of police departments across the country offering safe havens for in-person transactions.

“They can come here to the station. They could be right here in the lobby,” Coons said.

There’s audio and visual surveillance in the lobby that is recorded and saved, according to Coons, who got the idea from a resident who messaged the agency on Facebook.

In the bigger picture, it’s an effort to stop crimes linked to online classified ads — which bring the buyer and seller face-to-face.

Coons says sometimes these exchanges can get dicey, even in Cheektowaga.

“They agree to meet somebody selling, say they’re selling sneakers. They make the exchange…takes their money and runs, or they take the sneakers and run. Cellphones is another big one that we see,” he said.

But now buyers and sellers have a safe place to meet up, all under the watchful eyes of police.

“Anybody, anywhere. If they agree to meet here at the Cheektowaga police station; you don’t have to be a resident. You don’t have to work here in the town. It’s open to anybody,” Coons explained.

And if it involves a big-ticket item like a boat or vehicle, and the lobby is too small to conduct the exchange, there’s always the parking lot.

“They could actually do the transaction right out in the parking lot. The parking lot is also under video surveillance. We have officers in and out of here all the time,” Coons added.

Although, he encourages the paperwork and money exchange to be done in the lobby.

While the lobby is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the police department prefers that face-to-face transactions happen during business hours when there’s daylight.

Police emphasize that transactions must be 100 percent legitimate, and that weapons and drugs are prohibited.

“We have seen an increase in face-to-face transactions from online purchases result in crimes with many of the times resulting in injuries,” said Assistant Chief Jim Spyer. “SafeTrade Stations allows us to be listed on their website as a location where buyers and sellers can go to safely do the transactions.”

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