HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Hartsville created a brand new internet purchase exchange zone. It is specifically designed for people to meet at a safe place to sell and purchase goods. The zone is located behind the Hartsville Police Department which is located at 135 W. Carolina Ave in Hartsville.
Officers said the area will be monitored from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily and there is 24/7 video surveillance on the building. It is a highly-traveled street with officers coming in and out daily.
The Hartsville Police Department said the whole goal is to help prevent something bad from happening before it could happen. Lieutenant Mark Blair with the Hartsville Police Department said, "It hasn't happened in the city yet, but in some jurisdictions there have been robberies or scams going on and we wanted to make sure if someone wanted to transfer goods they were selling online that they have a safe space to do it in. They don't have to depend on a parking lot or business or something."
Blair explained especially when people are meeting strangers from websites like Craigslist, The Carolina Trader, Ebay, and Facebook. The City of Hartsville saw the need was there, and heard feedback from people wanting a monitored area. Officials are pushing for people to know this exists now. Rebecca Edwards, Communications Coordinator for the city said, "We just want to make sure we are providing more safety for our residents and making sure their day to day lives are being taken care of by our police department."
Joseph Hudson is a Hartsville resident and online seller who is part of the Facebook group created with members to post items to sell buy, or trade. He is one of more than 19,000 members. Hudson said him and his wife use the site a lot to buy and sell things. He said, "Most of the time I have questions about whether it's safe for her to go, and I don't want people coming to our house or her going to someone else's home, so I think it gives me a good peace of mind to know she can go somewhere that's monitored and well-lit and things like that."
Hudson explained most of the time you are meeting a stranger. "I mean probably at least ninety-five percent or more percent of the time you have absolutely no idea who the person is that you are going to meet." He added, which can cause some hesitation or fear, but chooses to post items online because it is the best way to get a lot of people to see what you are trying to sell.
Hudson said, "If my wife says well I'm going to meet this person they want to buy something from me, it gives me the peace of mind to say well I cant go with you or I don't know if you should go by yourself, now I know somebody is looking out for her."
Lieutenant Blair advise people to try to go along with someone else, try to do the exchange during day light, and he said if people want to use the front lobby of the police department, it is allowed any time before it closes at 5 p.m.
Items should not be left in the exchange zone unattended. The only things not allowed for exchange are alcohol, drugs, guns, or any sort of heavy machinery or equipment.