Thursday, May 30, 2024

Darebin buys in to safer selling sites trial

A joint Victoria Police and Darebin City Council trial of special zones outside police stations in Melbourne’s northeast to allow buyers and sellers of goods to safely exchange items bought online has begun.

Victoria Police say the trial zones have been established outside 24-hour police stations in the area that have adequate CCTV coverage.

Victoria Police has worked with Darebin Council to set up the initiative.

Exchange zones have become popular in the US, with feedback indicating people feel safer meeting in designated sites instead of inviting someone to their home or meeting where there isn’t good lighting or CCTV.

Victoria Police say two recent examples have highlighted the importance of ensuring the safety of those meeting a stranger to sell items, including:

• A woman meeting a man in the car park of a shopping centre on Plenty Road in Reservoir on Wednesday 23 March. The male contacted the 26-year-old woman about the new iPhone she advertised for sale on social media, and advised her he would be sitting in his car waiting. When the woman arrived, she approached the car the man described to her as a green Nissan sedan with the mobile phone in its original case. The man did not get out of the car and asked to inspect the case, and when she handed it over through the drivers side window he began driving off while she held onto it. The woman was dragged for approximately 10 metres before she let go, leaving her with minor injuries to her arm.

• On 9 November last year, a 42-year-old man arranged to meet another man at a park in Epping after making contact on social media about the phone he had advertised. Upon meeting each other, the man who claimed to be purchasing the phone asked to inspect it, and when the victim showed him the phone the man grabbed it and pulled out a kitchen knife. The victim followed the offender and made attempts to get the phone back before a struggle took place where the offender dropped the phone and knife and ran off. The victim received a non-life-threatening stab wound to his arm.

Participating police stations from North West Metro Division 5 include:

• Eltham Police Station

• Epping Police Station

• Greensborough Police Station

• Heidelberg Police Station

• Mernda Police Station

• Mill Park Police Station

• Northcote Police Station

• Preston Police Station

• Reservoir Police Station

The trial will run over several months and will seek to establish whether the signs improve community safety and whether there are benefits in establishing more safer sites elsewhere.

“While the number of robberies in the local area are relatively low, we don’t want to see even one incident occur and that’s why we’re doing everything we can to prevent this type of crime,” said Superintendent Sean Woods.

“With so many transactions made via online marketplaces now, this is about ensuring people feel safer when arranging to meet someone they have never met before.

“We still ask that people consider the risks of meeting someone they have never met before – if you decide to proceed with this method then we also advise to take some common sense safety measures such as meeting during daylight hours and taking someone with you.

“Police will continue to work with local councils and our stakeholders to boost crime prevention measures and ensure we are addressing issues that matter most to our community,” he said.

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