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'Internet Purchase Exchange' Locations Bringing Safety To Craigslist Transactions

SOUTH FAYETTE (KDKA) -- The Internet has opened up a new world of commerce, but when it comes to finalizing person to person transactions, it can be risky.

"You lose your money, you lose your identity or the you don't get the product that you've agreed upon," said John Phoennik with the South Fayette Police.

There is also a potential for physical harm. That's what concerns Zach Henager when he and his wife sell something on Craigslist.

"Generally, I'll put the post out there with my phone number and stuff and if she does do it I'll say 'make sure you schedule it at a time when I'm home and I'll take care of it,'" he said.

Craigslist and the police advise against every having a stranger come to your home for a sale and recommend meeting in well-lit public places. The South Fayette Township Municipal Building said they began getting requests from residents.

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"Who were looking for someplace safe to go to make internet purchase or exchanges like you do on Craigslist and so forth," said Andrea Iglar.

So Wednesday, a sign went up designating the area in front of the police station as an Internet Purchase Exchange Location.

"A safe kind of place for them to come and feel secure when they've made a transaction on the internet. And it can act as a deterrent to any criminal intent that there might be," Phoennik said.

Every possible angle of the exchange zone is covered by cameras and being constantly recorded. The same is true for the Peter's Township's exchange spot that's been in available for about a year. So far there's been no reason for police to get involved but if an issue crops up, the extra security provides a safety net.

"The cameras will give us a picture of both vehicles enough to verify what vehicles they are and who they belong to so we can track back to the people who were here and we can start an investigation," said Harry Fruecht with the Peters Township Police.

Both townships say costs to designate the exchange zones were minimal and the peace of mind is well worth it.

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