Pinecrest police department now a ‘safe haven’ for Craigslist, online transactions

Buying or selling a used iPhone or funky lamp just got a bit safer in Pinecrest.

Village officials announced Thursday they are now offering their police department’s lobby and parking lots, 24 hours every day, to those looking to buy and sell items via classified advertisement websites, such as Craigslist.

The idea is to scare off criminals who use the digital bulletin boards to find robbery victims online.

“Identifying a location that would deter criminal activity and serve as a safe haven for Internet sales transactions related to classified advertisement websites increases the safety of residents and can potentially cause a decline in robberies related to Internet sales transactions,” Pinecrest spokeswoman Hammontree Garcia said.

Pinecrest is just one of numerous municipalities and counties across the country that have dubbed their departments as safe havens. Earlier this year, Miami-Dade passed a resolution that allows 24-hours safe havens at police stations countywide.

In July, the Miami Beach Police Department opened up its doors for buyers and sellers. Broward County began using its Weston sheriff’s station as a haven last summer. Boca Raton and Coral Springs police departments also have safe havens.

The safe havens have been spurred by a string of Craigslist transactions that ended tragically.

In 2014, a 17-year-old in Hialeah was robbed at gunpoint when he tried to sell a pair of sneakers; a father of three was briefly kidnapped in a Target parking lot in Sunrise when trying to sell an iPhone; and in 2011 a U.S. Marine was shot in Miramar when trying to sell a gold chain advertised by his fiancée on Craigslist.

Those who want to conduct a transaction at the police station should arrange to meet either in the first-floor parking lot, or in the third-floor police station lobby.

“There is no need to call ahead,” Garcia said. “Transactions can be arranged at any time between the buyer and seller.”

If the first floor main entrance doors are locked on the weekend or after hours, “press the intercom button and inform the operator of the safe haven transaction,” she said.