Alabaster adds Craigslist safe zone

New signs designate Alabaster’s “Safe trade zone” in the parking lot of the Municipal Annex behind the Alabaster Police Department. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

New signs designate Alabaster’s “Safe trade zone” in the parking lot of the Municipal Annex behind the Alabaster Police Department. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Locals who buy and sell items through online trading services such as Craigslist now have a safe, monitored area to complete transactions near the Alabaster Police Department.

The city recently established a “Safe trade zone” in the parking lot of the Municipal Annex to allow buyers and sellers to safely conduct in-person transactions set up through the trading websites.

“These green striped parking stalls are designed to be a place where individuals can conduct business associated with online sales,” read a post on the city’s website. “As with all transactions and interaction with someone unknown, take appropriate caution when providing personal information, etc.”

The idea for the safe trade zone came from Ward 4 City Councilman Rick Walters, who proposed creating the zones during a July 2015 council work session.

Alabaster joins other cities such as Gainesville, Ga., and Conshohocken, Penn., which have already established online trading safe zones in an effort to curb crimes such as robberies and thefts.

Through online trading sites, sellers post photos and descriptions of their items. Interested buyers then contact the sellers and often set up in-person meetings to complete the transactions.

Walters said creating the safe zones will provide public meeting places for such transactions, and will benefit both buyers and sellers.

Alabaster’s safe trade zone is directly behind the city’s Police Department, which fronts U.S. 31 and is centrally located in the city. While the safe trade zone will not be manned continuously by police officers, they will be video monitored at all times.

“If you feel more comfortable, feel free to visit the Alabaster Police Department lobby, which is directly across the tracks from the Annex,” read the city’s website.

Alabaster City Manager George Henry said the city is encouraging local businesses to also consider establishing safe trade zones.