LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan police department is hoping to avoid crimes connected to Craigslist sales by offering people a safe place to conduct the transactions.
Lowell Police Department Detective Gordy Lauren has heard about assaults, robberies and murders that have happened during what victims thought would be a harmless meeting to complete a Craigslist deal.
Recently, there was one case that grabbed his attention: A Georgia couple, Bud and June Runion, drove to buy a car from a man they met online. Their bodies were found days later. Both had been shot. The man police believe they were going to meet is under arrest.
Lauren came up with the idea of creating a safe place for Craigslist buyers and sellers to do their deals. That safe place: The lobby of the Lowell Police Department.
He took the idea to his police chief, who gave him the OK. On their Facebook page last week, Lowell police invited people to the safety of the lobby when completing a Craigslist deal.
Lauren expected only a few people would take advantage of the program.
“It kind of exploded,” he said. “I didn’t realize it would get the attention we are getting.”
Jack Misner’s son suggested Craigslist as a way to sell his car, so Misner became one of the first people to close a deal at Lowell PD.
“This is a perfect opportunity for the City of Lowell to help people out with a safe place to do this type of transaction,” Misner said.
The Lowell Police Department has heard from other agencies around the country interested in starting a similar program, asking how it’s going in Lowell.
The lobby is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is also a large parking lot out front of the department located at 111 N. Monroe Street for sales of bigger items.
Additionally, Lowell police say that if they have officers free, they will drive to wherever you are to witness a Craigslist sale.