Fort Collins police set up public exchange zones for safer buying, selling environment

Diego Felix

While Craigslist’s anonymous online marketplace is an effective tool for selling couches or purchasing used audio equipment, it presents one caveat — dealing with strangers.

Fort Collins Police Services recently designated two exchange zones where the public can meet to carry out in-person transactions.

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Buyers, sellers and traders can make use of the police station public lobby at 2221 S. Timberline Road from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekends. The north public parking lot is available 24/7.

Both spaces are well-lit with video surveillance and provide a safer alternative to meeting at someone’s residence, according to FCPS spokeswoman Kate Kimble.

“Law enforcement agencies in cities around the country have started implementing exchange zones as e-commerce has gotten popular,” Kimble said. “It’s important for people to have places where they feel comfortable making exchanges with folks.”

FCPS implemented these zones to minimize the risk of crime when completing sales or trades with strangers, Kimble said.

In February, a Longmont woman was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, assault and unlawful termination of a pregnancy after cutting open the stomach of a pregnant woman responding to a Craigslist ad for maternity clothes in 2015. This year, the cities of Lakewood and Littleton have seen gunfire from Craigslist meet-ups gone awry.

Senior equine science major Ali Marpo has never had an issue buying or selling items online. Even when purchasing her kitchen table from a “sketchy” seller, Marpo said she has never had problems carrying out transactions.

Taking advantage of the zones, so long as they are widely known and easily accessible, is something she said she holds interest in.

“For things that can be reasonably transported to a designated spot, yeah, I think that it’s a good idea,” Marpo said.

FCPS employees cannot act as witnesses of the exchange, give legal advice or settle disputes related to the exchange. The police department will not provide any security and is not responsible for ensuring the value, authenticity or legitimacy of the exchanges.

The exchange of weapons, drugs or illegal items is prohibited at both locations.

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“We always encourage people to seek out a safe location, such as a well-lit public place, if they are going to meet someone they don’t know,” Kimble said. “So it’s good to have the spots as a point of reference.”

Collegian Reporter Diego Felix can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @FMTLturntablist.