GREENVILLE — Whether shopping for collectibles, phones, toys, clothes, guns or jewelry, the internet is a great place to find good deals, and often results in two private parties agreeing to meet to complete a transaction.
However, when it comes to dealing face-to-face with an unknown buyer or seller, the danger of robbery, or worse, may lurk.
In order to foster a safe climate for deals brokered through the Web, the Greenville City Police Department has announced that it welcomes buyers and sellers to complete transactions of this sort at its headquarters at 122 West Main Street.
“I saw a post on Facebook showing a local police department doing this,” said Greenville Police Chief Dennis L. Butts. “And I asked, ‘Why can’t we do this?’”
For Butts, the issue boils down to safety.
“We’ve all seen the news, heard stories of people ripping people off,” he said. “There are always people looking to take advantage of others, especially when there are higher-value commodities being sold, or when people are carrying large amounts of cash.”
Chief Butts said that people who would like to conduct a safe transfer can use the department’s parking lot (in spaces not designated for police use) or may avail themselves of the front lobby, where a dispatcher is on duty 24 hours a day.
“We would rather be proactive than wait for something bad to happen,” he said.
The chief says that although areas surrounding the police station are under video surveillance, and officers are on duty, he can’t offer the public an ironclad guarantee of safety.
“In a perfect world, maybe,” he said. “But I think it’s a lot safer to do this here than at a clandestine location or at somebody’s house. Chances are, if they are willing to meet either here in the lobby or in the parking lot, it will be a legitimate transaction.”
Butts says there are no restrictions on the types of legally owned items that the department will allow to trade hands, including firearms.
“It’s legal for law-abiding citizens to buy and sell guns here. Ohio is an open carry state,” he said. “But because of some highly publicized incidents involving guns, people are more akin to being rather paranoid.”
Butts does strongly recommend, however, that people planning to conduct firearm transfers at the station should first notify the department beforehand, so as to avoid any misunderstandings.
“We’re not trying to restrict anyone, but it’s a good idea for safety reasons, for our officers and the public,” he said.
As for the transfer of “illegal” items between individuals, such as narcotics or stolen goods, Butts laughed, saying, “If people want to sell these things, they should call us first. We’d be happy to help with the transaction. We will help unload the items. We will even take memorable photographs.”
The Greenville City Police Department number is 937-548-1103.