A growing number of police departments in Pennsylvania are offering their building lobbies and parking lots to people making Craigslist transactions.
For Chief William Kelly with the Abington Township Police Department, the decision was all about safety.
While crimes connected to the popular classifieds site aren’t common, they do occur.
“This is an opportunity for them to feel better,” said Kelly. “It’s a pretty reasonable assumption that somebody that’s planning on doing something harmful to them is not going to do it in the lobby of a police department where it’s being videotaped.”
Officers at the Lansdale Police Department agreed. The suggestion to extend the offer to residents came after a couple was murdered in Georgia while responding to an ad for a car.
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Sgt. Alex Kromdyk of the opportunity.
The Philadelphia and Conshohocken police departments have similar offers, which, almost universally don’t involve officers.
Kelly said they might be on hand when firearms are being exchanged.
It’s hard to pin down exactly how many incidents across the state have ties to Craigslist as incidents are categorized simply by the crime committed, whether it be fraud, robbery or murder.
It’s also unclear how many residents are taking advantage of the safe surroundings.
Philadelphia Sgt. Eric Gripp said some residents might be reaping the benefits of the offer without ever entering the police station.
Would-be criminals, he said, could back down if asked to meet with police so nearby.
“They’re probably going to balk a little bit,” said Gripp.