Parking spots at Bancroft OPP provide a ‘safe zone’ to meet online sellers or buyers

OPP's Project Safe Trade initiative intended to reduce internet-based theft and fraud

Two Project Safe Trade parking spots are available at the Bancroft OPP Detachment in Lindsay at 64 Monck Road in Bancroft, providing a public location to complete property transactions arranged on the internet. Pictured are Bancroft community safety and wellbeing committee chair Charles Mullett, staff sergeant Jeff MacKinnon, and provincial constable Susanne Cox. (Photo courtesy of Bancroft OPP)
Two Project Safe Trade parking spots are available at the Bancroft OPP Detachment in Lindsay at 64 Monck Road in Bancroft, providing a public location to complete property transactions arranged on the internet. Pictured are Bancroft community safety and wellbeing committee chair Charles Mullett, staff sergeant Jeff MacKinnon, and provincial constable Susanne Cox. (Photo courtesy of Bancroft OPP)

Meeting an online buyer or seller in the Bancroft area? How about doing it in a police parking lot?

That’s the idea behind Project Safe Trade, a program from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) that creates “community safe zones” at an OPP detachment parking lot to facilitate property transactions arranged on the internet.

Online classified and auction sites are often used as tools to sell stolen property to unknowing victims, and they can also present a safety threat. Only five per cent of internet or telephone scams and frauds are reported, largely due to shame or embarrassment on the part of the victim.

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The parking spots, which are identified by signs, provide a public space for people meeting strangers to complete an online sales transaction. The hope is that internet fraud will be reduced by moving online transactions away from secluded parking lots, personal residences, or other areas and bringing them to a public place associated with the police.

Residents of the Bancroft area are invited to use the designated parking spaces at the Bancroft OPP detachment’s parking lot at 64 Monck Road, which are available at all times with no appointment necessary. However, the OPP does not monitor the spots, mediate transactions, or check serial numbers of items being exchanged.

The OPP also recommends bringing a trusted friend or family member as a witness during the meeting, to keep transactions to daylight hours, and to not erase emails, texts, or voicemails between you and the seller or buyer.

Project Safe Trade was also launched at the Kawartha Lakes OPP detachment in Lindsay in 2019.