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Amid change in type of robberies, Waco police create Internet Exchange Safety Zones

Crime stats reveal shift in type of robberies last year.
Posted at 8:27 AM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 09:27:14-05

WACO, Texas — Like the changing color of leaves from one season to another, or new construction projects starting while others are coming to an end, change is a constant in any community.

It is essential to know when change happens and ask how, especially if you want to understand a community. Fortunately for us, the Waco Police Department continues to do just that.

Here, after a review of preliminary crime stats for the past year, Waco police noticed a change, said Cierra Shipley, Waco PD's public information officer.

"We noticed that a lot of people we're reporting they were getting robbed but in a different kind of way," Shipley said.

Preliminary crime statistics for the past year revealed a slight uptick in robberies, but what was different was that the robberies involved the potential purchase and selling of goods online, she said.

Sometimes, through social media such as Facebook, strangers would agree to meet at a specific location to exchange money and items, just like at a business.

"They would go meet that person, and either the buyer or seller would end up getting robbed," Shipley said.

The parking spots are watched by security camera 24 hours a day, seven days a week according to Waco PD.

But Waco police did something about it by creating safe exchange zones for online purchases right in their parking lot.

Four blue-colored parking spots, marked with a sign displaying the name "Internet Safety Exchange Zone" provide a location potential buyers or sellers can make these types of transactions safely. According to Shipley, the spots have security cameras recording 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"It lets the community know they can come here whether they're buying or selling online," she said. "You can see the cameras around here which are filming 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

For Waco resident Ana Rismyher, the safe-exchange zones are a great idea. She explained how she sells and buys items on Facebook frequently and it can be nerve-wracking meeting with strangers.

A sign marks four blue colored parking spots outside the Waco Police Department where residents can make business transactions set up online safely.

"A lot of times, there's scams and it's sketchy," Rismyher said.

It's her first time utilizing the exchange zones, but she said she plans to continue doing so later down the road.

"I think this is a great place to do your trade with fair, honest people," she said.