HAMILTON, Ohio -- Online shopping sites Craigslist and eBay may offer dream deals but can lead to security nightmares, including assault, robbery or worse when making purchases or sales. Beginning Feb. 1, the main lobby of the Butler County Jail will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week to ensure safe exchange of online purchases for Butler County residents.
Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones said this service will negate the potential dangers of online transactions, such as a case from May 2015, when a 17-year-old set up a transaction through Craigslist to buy video games at Heritage Elementary in Liberty Township and ended up being assaulted and robbed by three young men.
"These types of transactions have a lot of potential for a crime to take place, and they certainly have," Jones said. "People have lost their lives over a few dollars, and if I can lessen any chance for someone to get injured, I’m going to do just that.”
The sheriff is also considering designating parking spaces in the front lot with signs for exchanges for those not wanting to use the lobby. The Butler County Jail is located at 705 Hanover St. in Hamilton.
The announcement of Butler County's online purchase safe zone follows a national trend of law enforcement offering secure locations with the peace of mind of police protection just steps away. The Montgomery Police Department has also opened up its parking lot at 10150 Montgomery Rd. in Montgomery, as has Dayton's Police Department.
The city of Montgomery website offers the following tips for staying safe while making online purchases.
- Clarify all details of the transaction and get a description of who will be at the transaction and what type of vehicle they will be in.
- The buddy system is always a good idea as well. Bring a friend or family member to the transaction.
- Conduct the transaction during daylight hours.
- If they hesitate at all about meeting at a police department, that is a hint to end the deal.
- Unless absolutely necessary, do not reveal your home address.
- Keep a safe distance from the other person and never get in their vehicle.
- Visualize an escape route in the event you need to get out of a bad situation.
- If you feel uncomfortable about any aspect of the transaction, trust your instincts and move on.