Officials Set up Safe Meetup Spot for Internet Sales Exchanges in Lake Elsinore

The Lake Elsinore sheriff’s station is seen in a Google Maps Street View image from March 2018, and a new sign marking a parking area as a safe location for internet transaction meetups is seen in an image released July 22, 2019, by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

The Lake Elsinore sheriff’s station is seen in a Google Maps Street View image from March 2018, and a new sign marking a parking area as a safe location for internet transaction meetups is seen in an image released July 22, 2019, by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

People in the Lake Elsinore area looking to complete internet transactions at a secure location can now use a dedicated spot outside the community’s sheriff’s station, officials announced Monday.

The meetup spot, marked with a green sign in the lot at 333 Limited Ave., is meant to be a safer alternative to exchanging goods at a private residence or unfamiliar location, Riverside County sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

The area can also be used for families to conduct custodial exchanges, deputies said.

Buying and selling on mobile apps, Craigslist and Facebook has become more common and opened a door for thieves to arrange a transaction with the intent of taking the item by force rather than paying.

Such sales have ended in assault and robbery. In one extreme case, pregnant Chicago teen Marlen Ochoa-Lopez was killed and her baby was cut from her womb after she arranged via Facebook to receive free baby clothes from a stranger. A similar case has happened before, in Colorado.

Officials recommend to arrange internet meetups only during daylight hours. Tell someone where you’re going, or bring someone with you, and be sure you have your cellphone.

Riverside County authorities say they’re not responsible for the value, authenticity or legitimacy of such transactions.

Several other agencies in Southern California similarly offer up their parking lots for safe exchanges, including police Los Angeles, Arcadia, Montebello, Buena Park, Irvine, Riverside and Moreno Valley, and several L.A. County sheriff’s stations.

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