Howard County police use 'Safe Transaction Places' to reduce swap site scams

Officers have several locations to do business
Posted at 9:12 AM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-10 09:12:58-05

It's happened to everybody -- they've shopped online looking for a good deal, sometimes even meeting the person to get their products. 

Howard County police aren't so sure that's the safest way to do business so they set up safe places to do business to prevent crime. 

In a time when your next purchase is only a click away, police say thieves are waiting and watching. 

Lt. Jen Reidy-Hall, assigned to the community outreach division, says swap sites and online classifieds like, Craigslist, are littered with people looking to get one over on unsuspecting customers -- or worse. .

"I thought this is probably the easiest way that we can prevent fraud here in Howard County," she said. 

So the 15 year vet wanted to be proactive and came up with a solution. 

"This initiative really is more about the prevention of crime," Reidy-Hall said. 

Two spaces, marked in bright yellow, designated for 'safe transactions.'

"Both of the lobbies, at both districts, are designated as transaction safe place locations as well as two spots in the parking lots at those two buildings," Reidy-Hall said. 
The goal of these transaction safe places is to conduct business with the watchful eye of police protection. You get out your car. You have about five minutes to conduct your business, exchanging cash for product under a well-lit area and video camera surveillance.
"We have cameras that are pointed at these spots specifically 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So if something goes awry, we will have videotape of it. We will have suspect information and we will be able to close that case so much faster based on that information," Reidy-Hall said.i 
Information that would've helped in two incidents where people were robbed in Howard County in 2015 after meeting up online. 
Reidy-Hall says she hopes the 'Transaction Safe Places' scare off scammers. 
"If you say 'look I want to meet at the police station to do this transaction and if someone says no I don't want to do that, that should raise a big red flag in your head and you should move on to the next seller," she said. 
It's a push for better business safety. 
Howard County is the latest police department to bring on the transaction safe places. 
The idea first started with Anne Arundel County Police. 
8495 Veterans Highway
Millersville, Maryland 21108
(Monday-Friday 8:00 am- 4:00 pm)
Northern District
939 Hammonds Lane
Baltimore, Maryland 21225
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Eastern District
204 Pasadena Road
Pasadena, Maryland 21122
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Western District
8273 Telegraph Road
Odenton, Maryland 21113
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
Southern District
35 Stepneys Lane
Edgewater, Maryland 21037   
(24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Annapolis Police Department
(Safe to close transactions in the lobby or parking lot)
199 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis

"We don’t have an official program along these lines, however we do encourage people to use the precincts to make such exchanges as they are public buildings.”
Northern District
3410 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, Maryland
Southern District
11226 Scaggsville Road
Laurel, Maryland