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Middletown police set ‘Safe Exchange Zone’ for online buys, custody exchanges

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/7/19

If you have arranged to buy or sell something from a stranger over the Internet, you now have a safe place to go in Middletown to complete the transaction.

Middletown Police Department has created …

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Middletown police set ‘Safe Exchange Zone’ for online buys, custody exchanges

Posted

If you have arranged to buy or sell something from a stranger over the Internet, you now have a safe place to go in Middletown to complete the transaction.

Middletown Police Department has created a Safe Exchange Zone in the parking lot outside of the police station at 300 E. Emaus St.

Under the watch of 24-hour video surveillance, people can meet in the exchange zone to safely complete a transaction. The zone is available for people to meet at any time of the day or night.

The Safe Exchange Zone also provides a “neutral” location where a child custody exchange can be made between parents, the police department said in a Friday post on Crimewatch.

Two well-lit areas are being provided in the parking lot in front of the station. Both have signs reading “Safe Exchange Zone.”

Middletown police in creating the zone note the “growing use and popularity of websites and apps such as Craigslist, Let Go, Facebook Marketplace” and others where strangers can arrange to meet and do business.

The danger inherent in such meetings between strangers was brought home in October 2018, when a New Cumberland man who arranged to meet two women to buy a $50 watch was beaten and robbed of $45,000 near an abandoned farmhouse in Lower Swatara Township.

Middletown joins a growing list of area police departments that now offer safe exchange zones.

Hummelstown and Swatara Township police have both offered such a zone for some time.

Lower Swatara Township Police Department does not have such a zone in place. But “it’s coming soon,” Police Chief Jeff Vargo said.