Stafford Township becomes the next Ocean County community to set up a marked, lit and monitored spot for online buyers and sellers to complete transactions out in the open.

Stafford Internet Exchange Zone (Stafford PD)

The township's Internet Safe Exchange Zone consits of two parking spots on the east side of the Municipal Building - and near police headquarters - on East Bay Avenue.

The zone is under 24-hour video surveillance, clearly marked, and the spaces have 15-minute time limits.

Stafford Internet Exchange Zone (Stafford PD)

The program begins less than a month since a similar one was publicized in Brick Township. Chief Tom Dellane says it reflects the trend among Stafford residents, and many Americans, to use the Internet for many consumer purposes.

"Many of our residents utilize websites like eBay, Craigslist and other buy and sell websites to make internet transactions due to the ease and convenience of these transactions," Dellane said, "but it also has created new opportunities for criminals. In the past few years, the police department has investigated several instances where residents were defrauded due to online sales."

Stafford Internet Exchange Zone (Stafford PD)

"Problems arise when people have to pick a location to conduct the exchange. Meeting someone at your home or in an unfamiliar area can be problematic and potentially expose people to being victimized. We recommend meeting in a safe, neutral location" Dellane said.

Community Policing Officer Christopher Fritz, who's handling questions about the zone, said he learned first-hand through several transactions in cyberspace, " it can be a little worrisome to exchange cash in an uncontrolled or unmonitored environment."

To learn more about the initiative and how it functions, e-mail Officer Fritz or reach him at 609-597-1189, ext. 8406.

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