Making parking lots at Hillsborough County sheriff's offices available to complete private online sales transactions is a smart use of community resources. Operation Safe Sale, announced this week, is designed to protect consumers who set up sales on the Internet or through classified ads and lack a secure meeting spot. Now both sellers and buyers can feel more confident that deals won't end in disaster.
The Sheriff's Office is offering the public access to parking lots outside its four district offices. Each site is monitored by video cameras, well-lit and observed by deputies going in and out. The department doesn't track the number of e-commerce related robberies, but said it enacted its new safety program amid sustained reporting of that type of crime. The move is not without precedent. Already, several bay area law enforcement agencies allow the public to use their parking lots informally in child custody exchanges and Web-related sales.
As more consumers utilize online commerce websites such as Craigslist, Hillsborough County's new program makes sense.
The effort is proactive and doesn't cost the department anything. Other law enforcement agencies should follow suit with formal campaigns. And savvy consumers should take advantage of them.