Saint John creates 'safe zone' for online buyers and sellers to meet
Online buy and sells continue to grow with millions making purchases on sites like Kijiji or Facebook market.
Making purchases online through a buy-and-sell site is easy, but as we've seen occasionally in the news it can also be dangerous.
The big question, besides the money of course, is always where people are going to meet up.
That's why the Saint John Police Force has created the "safe zone," to give buyers and sellers peace of mind knowing Big Brother is watching.
Like all corner stores, people go to Kane's Corner Convenience to buy everything from snacks to lottery tickets.
But now, just outside the front door, there's a new place designated to make purchases and it's a Saint John first.
Const. Duane Squires of the Saint John Police Force crime reduction unit said when he buys things online, it's always an issue about where to meet.
The zone is in a high-traffic area, on the east side of Saint John, has 24-hour surveillance and is well-lit. All this is designed to reduce the risk of the sale going sideways.
"We have had some incidents in Saint John related to people purchasing things online and meeting in some strange locations and with our police station, it's centrally located, but parking is not ideal," said Squires.
So, Squires looked for a community partner and found one in the owner of Kane's Convenience and Hi-tech Security -- Chris Pyne.
"You're going to be red-flagged if you don't want to go to this area," Pyne said. "If you say 'no, I don't want to go here, I want to go somewhere else or whatever. You're probably better off not to go ahead with the deal or transaction."
And whether it's through Kijiji or Facebook marketplace, these types of transactions are becoming more and more common and there are safe zones like this throughout Canada -- including many cities in the Maritimes.
If you don't have one close to where you live, Squires offers some advice.
"It's nice to know a full name of a person you're meeting or a contact number versus, communication through an app," Squires said.
While this might be the first of its kind in the port city, it might not be the last.
"Ultimately, it would be nice if there were a couple throughout the city and we could place them somewhere in the different areas of the city," Squires said. "We could place them on our website or launch it that way, so we know, if you're on the East side you can come here. If you're on the west side, you can go somewhere else."
Squires said if you're getting a bad feeling about a transaction or it's just not sitting right with you, then that is the biggest red flag there is. Your best bet in that case is to just listen to your instincts and cancel any kind of meeting.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Laura Lyall.