Police Station Offers “Safe Sale Zone”

The Portsmouth Police Department in New Hampshire is hoping to help residents avoid being scammed by offering its lobby and parking lot to make online exchanges.

Searching for the very best deal this holiday season often times leads people to the Internet, where online predators are waiting for their next victim.

That's why police in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, have come up with a plan to help residents avoid getting scammed.

"We have absolutely gotten calls from people who have had bad experiences online," said Portsmouth Police Capt. Corey MacDonald.

MacDonald says you just never know what can happen when you agree to an exchange on Craigslist or Facebook.

Online shoppers, like Jennifer Card of Massachusetts, agree.

"It is definitely a concern of mine," she said. "That would absolutely be helpful to have a place where you felt safe."

And now, there is such a place. Portsmouth Police set up the "Safe Sale Zone," and are urging people to carry out online transactions in person in the Police Department lobby or parking lot.

MacDonald hopes this will deter any would-be scammers from following through with their plans.

"If you're advertising something with a high dollar value, to say 'Any transactions that are going to take place from his ad will be done at my local police department' might keep you from being approached by these people in the first place," he said.

MacDonald adds that the only way to be 100 percent sure that you're not scammed online is go shopping in your local community.

Business owners in Portsmouth say they couldn't agree more.

Assiah Russel's business, "Puttin' on the Glitz," has been thriving for a decade. She says thanks to residents and visitors who shop local.

"There's something quite wonderful about coming out, shopping, having a little drink, something to nibble on," Russel said. "It's like the whole environment, just being enveloped in Christmas."

The truth is that sometimes you find the best deal online.

"Absolutely," Card admitted.

But many would argue the experience you find downtown, is priceless.

"It's like the whole environment, just being enveloped in Christmas," Russel said.

Portsmouth Police say you do not have to inform them that you are going to carry out a transaction in the parking lot or in the lobby, and they say they don't plan to get involved in people's personal sales. They just want to give people a place to feel safe while deterring any would-be criminals.

Contact Us