Police plan aims to prevent Craigslist attacks

MIAMI -- Everyday millions of people buy and sell items on the internet. Thousands of these transactions are between private citizens and in many cases can be dangerous. Just Wednesday a pregnant woman in Colorado was attacked and her fetus killed when she went to buy baby clothes from someone advertising on Craigslist. The growing nature of this type of crime has states like Florida trying ways to make these transactions safer.

Karl Trenker spent nearly 30 years in the Marines, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and never took a bullet until he tried to sell a gold necklace on Craigslist. He was shot four times in Deerfield Beach, Florida three years ago. The bullets hit him in the back, shoulder, abdomen and pelvis.

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Karl Trenker recovers from gunshot wounds he received during a transaction for a Craigslist purchase CBS News

Trenker lived to tell about it, but others weren't so lucky. Since 2009, 45 people have been killed in Craigslist related robberies. They include an elderly couple in Georgia buying a car; a father in Washington state selling a ring; and a Florida college student over an iPhone.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman says it's a shame that this became the newest crime trend. She believes safe havens are needed to protect internet buyers and sellers.

"So instead of saying let me go to a public place like a shopping mall or a lobby at a hotel, instead go to a public place, somethings that's likely to have cameras and security people," said Heyman.

Some place like the Boca Raton Police Department where Chief Dan Alexander says he's already seen incidents drop.

"Just within the month of June we had four Craigslist related crimes," said Alexander. "We launched this campaign and since that time we haven't had any subsequent events."

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A sign advertising a safe haven location for transactions initiated from Craigslist and other online marketplaces CBS News
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Boca Raton Police Chief Dan Alexander CBS News

His campaign includes YouTube videos to alert the public about the dangers and to tell them that police stations are safer places for such transactions.

"If their intent is bad they're going to say no, not interested," said Heyman. "It's not going to present that opportunity."

Florida lawmakers are hoping to establish Craigslist safe haven programs in every county in the state. The sheriff's office in Jacksonville is set to be next to roll out the program.