The Department of Public Safety is offering its office space to prevent more Internet transaction crime on campus.
Students can use the DPS lobby as a safe zone for Craigslist or other Internet-related transactions. The reminder comes after an incident took place March 22, when two students tried to sell a vehicle they listed on Craigslist in the 900 block of N. 14th Street. A subject posing as an interested buyer approached the students, displayed a handgun and stole the vehicle.
Although the DPS offices close after regular business hours, the outer lobby is dispatched with a DPS officer 24 hours a day. DPS Chief Paul Mascari noted it is still best to do transactions during business hours.
DPS Captain Russell Shaw said a transaction safe zone doesn’t have to be the DPS lobby, but can be any place that the seller or buyer feels is safe.
“Our goal is to give students a safe environment when making a transaction,” Shaw said.
Shaw said there is no estimate as to how many students take advantage of the safe zone as there is no way to know how many people go in and out of the lobby. Mascari said the service has been around for several years to provide a place for students to safely conduct internet transactions. The safe zone was established after a student was a victim of a different Craigslist-related crime.
DPS worked in conjunction with the Milwaukee Police Department and located the vehicle and suspects. The vehicle was returned to the student and the individuals posing as interested customers were arrested.
Shaw provided several tips to help students avoid becoming a victim of a Internet-transaction crime. He said to never meet someone alone, to always be in an environment that is familiar to you and to never meet someone at your personal residence.
Mascari and Shaw both said the time following the car theft was a good opportunity for DPS to remind students of the safe zone services available.
“You never know who you’re dealing with on the other end, so it’s vitally important to keep yourself safe and not become a victim of a crime,” Shaw said. “If the deal sounds too good, it probably is.”