Nova Scotia

Truro police offer safe space for online buyers, sellers to meet

With more people turning to online marketplaces to shop during the pandemic, police in Truro, N.S., want to make sure buyers and sellers have a safe place to meet up.

Opening lobby to public transactions 'a no-brainer,' says police chief

Truro Police Service Chief Dave MacNeil says there are cameras around the lobby and it's always open, making it an ideal location for online sales. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

Truro police say now more than ever they'd love to see more people in their lobby.

A few years ago, the force decided to invite the public to do online buy-and-sell transactions on the property. Now, with COVID, they're putting new emphasis on the opportunity as a way to keep the community safe.

"We heard from people, sometimes they're a little nervous meeting strangers in locations that may not be familiar to do a transaction where there's money involved," said Truro Police Service Chief Dave MacNeil.

MacNeil said more people have turned to online marketplaces with stores closed during shutdowns.

He doesn't have statistics, but says police have been called when some online deals concluded in person have turned sour.

He said police realized that their building, which is open 24 hours a day, has a large lobby where people can maintain a safe distance.

People don't need an appointment. They can also use the back parking lot to transfer large items that they can't carry. 

"We have cameras in our lobby and all around the building so it would be a no–brainer for us to offer that safe space," MacNeil said.

Community embraces idea

He said the idea has been embraced by people in the community, and he's encouraging other police forces to do the same.

In Halifax, regional police say they do not have a space designated for buy-and-sell transactions. Instead, they encourage people to meet in public places such as coffee shops or malls.

"If possible, bring someone with you as there can be safety in numbers," a spokesperson for Halifax Regional Police wrote in an email. "Trust your instincts and leave if the situation feels unsafe."

MacNeil said there have been no issues with transactions in their lobby. 

"If someone is going to be dishonest, I would think if you suggest to meet at the police station they would probably move on to another victim."



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