Pittsfield Police just released a statement introducing a "safe exchange zone" for people who are meeting to purchase or sell items they advertised online:

As the number of residents buying and selling goods online continues to increase and grow, so too do the potential risks associated with these types of transactions, which can involve meeting a stranger in unfamiliar surroundings. In an effort to keep these transactions as safe as possible, the Pittsfield Police Department is introducing a designated “safe exchange zone” in the lobby area of Headquarters at 39 Allen Street. This area is monitored via video surveillance and is available 24 hours a day.

A few tips to keep in mind when conducting transactions at the Pittsfield Police Department:

• Pittsfield Police personnel will not be present or assist with any transactions.
• Pittsfield Police personnel are unable to give legal advice or settle disputes between parties involved in these transactions.
• The exchange of drugs, weapons, alcohol, and other illegal items is not permitted.
• The “safe exchange zone” is meant for person to person transactions. Property may not be dropped off and left unattended.
• Sellers are required to take their property with them if the buyer does not show up.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when conducting such transactions in the community:

• Be wary of people unwilling to meet at the Police Department.
• Insist on meeting in a public area like our “safe exchange zone.”
• Only conduct transactions with local buyers/sellers.
• Do not conduct a transaction alone.
• Make sure a friend or family member is aware of the transaction details.
• Do not go into someone else’s residence, and do not allow them into your residence.
• Complete transactions in daylight hours.
• Be extra cautious when buying or selling valuable items.
• Only use cash or money orders to complete your transactions.
• Trust your instincts. If you suspect a scam, it probably is.