Police Department Offer Parking Lot for SAFE Craigslist Transactions

ANKENY, Iowa — The Ankeny Police Department is promoting a new way to keep people from getting scammed.

Local law enforcement promotes a new way to keep people from getting scammed. As people spend time scanning sites like Craigslist in hopes of finding a good deal, they know there’s a chance they could be set up for a scam.

“I think you have to be awful careful with them. People get robbed, and a lot of bad things happen,” said Ankeny resident Gary Franklin. Franklin is leery when it comes to online classifieds.

Des Moines police are investigating two recent Craigslist-related robberies. In both cases, the suspect who placed a motorcycle ad lured the victims to a church parking lot, brandished a black pistol and fled with cash.

“We’re not saying that Internet sales of items are inherently dangerous,” said Ankeny Police Department Lt. Ben Bowersox. “It’s just it gives people that opportunity, and people will take advantage of that.”

In an attempt to prevent similar scams, Ankeny police suggest buyers and sellers meet at their parking lot. Security cameras monitor the property and provide a watchful eye around the clock.

It’s that constant surveillance that helped police nab the man accused of firing shots into the building in 2012. “It just adds a little bit of extra security to people,” said Bowersox.

Ankeny police hope striking the deal at their station will cut down on buyers and sellers falling prey to the next scam circulating on Craigslist. “It would be a lot safer for one thing, and you would have the police right there if anything bad went wrong,” said Franklin.

Police also suggested that buyers and sellers should take a picture of the other person’s vehicle and license plate before the transaction occurs, and buyers should only accept cash or a cashier’s check for sale.