Safe Spots can save buyers’ or sellers’ lives

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
A Safe Spot location in front of Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Buying used can save quite a bit of money, but it comes with a lot of risk, too. Fifty years ago, yard sales and thrift stores were practically unheard of, and there were certainly no barter boards. If you couldn’t afford new things, you borrowed from a friend or got your items from a church basement. Now it is easier to find almost anything at an affordable price, but you take a chance on buying something that might not work, and you also have an element of danger involved in the transaction itself.

In October 2016, James Sanders died in Edgewood, Wash., while defending his family from four people who came to his home intent on stealing the diamond ring he had listed for sale on Craigslist. Mr. and Mrs. Sanders were expecting a woman to come look at the ring as a possible Mother’s Day gift. The woman arrived at approximately 9 p.m. accompanied by a male companion.

After looking at the ring, the man suddenly pulled out a gun, and two more men entered the home. The intruders shot Mr. Sanders and pistol-whipped the couple’s 14-year-old son while robbing the home before finally leaving.

In January 2015, an elderly couple was killed in southern Georgia while attempting to purchase a car from someone on Craigslist. Elrey and June Runion drove more than three hours to look at a classic 1966 Mustang only to be shot in the head once they arrived at their destination. Their bodies were later recovered in nearby woods.

James Jones Jr. was killed in February 2015 in Marietta, Ga. when he answered an ad for an iPhone 6. As he approached the meeting place, he was shot and then robbed.

Stories like these are all over the news, and OCSO Sheriff Noel Stephen takes the safety of the citizens of Okeechobee very seriously. That’s why when he first saw “Safe Spots,” he knew he wanted them in his county.

The OCSO released the following statement regarding Safe Spots:

In today’s world of technology, there are a lot of internet sales which require perfect strangers to meet and exchange goods. Recent events have shown us that even this type of public commerce is preyed upon by the criminals.

“Safe Spot” is an initiative set forth by Sheriff Noel Stephen in an effort to give our community a “Safe Spot” to conduct such transactions.

This location is in front of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Headquarters Office, located at 504 N.W. Fourth St., here in Okeechobee.

The area is clearly defined by the green parking lines and marked as “Safe Spot.” It offers a 24-hour high-definition surveillance camera monitoring system and is mere feet from the sheriff’s office main operations center.

Sheriff Stephen reminds everyone that if someone you are dealing with online is reluctant to meet you anywhere where police presence is constant, they may have an ulterior motive.

Thanks go to Ty Waldron of Advanced Alarm Solutions for donating the HD camera and installation for the Safe Spot.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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