South Congaree Police Department adds new internet purchase exchange location
SOUTH CONGAREE, SC (HANNAH OWENS)- Recently, the South Congaree Police Department installed a new internet purchase exchange location. This area was specifically designated to keep the public safe during physical exchanges of items you might agree to buy or sell to a stranger on the internet. It is available 24 hours a day for private citizens or businesses at no cost to the user. Over the past several years, there have been many publicized cases here locally and nationwide where people have met under the pretext of exchanging items they are interested in purchasing or selling from someone they may have met on an internet sales site like Craiglist. Once they meet the person who said they wanted to buy or sell an item, one of the parties robbed, hurt, or even killed the other. This internet exchange location in South Congaree, which was modeled after similar exchange zones across the county and country, was created by the police department to prevent anyone from being harmed or robbed when they meet a person for the first time, according to South Congaree Police Chief Josh Shumpert. To ensure the safety of the public when doing these exchanges, cameras have been installed so that there are video records of the parties involved in the exchange. Shumpert said that in general, criminals like to work in areas where they are not seen. Burglars usually try to stay in the darkest areas where no one can easily see them, Chief Shumpert pointed out. “Just the fact that we have the cameras here and our officers are going in and out of the building day and night deters people with bad intentions from following through with a criminal act,” Shumpert said. Shumpert strongly encourages the public to take advantage of the new site. He said that citizens can use it for those internet sales or even for items you might agree to exchange in other ways. Many folks see items in the newspaper or publications like The Carolina Trader or the SC Department of Agriculture’s Market Bulletin, publications purposefully designed to sell or trade un-wanted things, and agree to meet complete strangers to exchange these items for cash. “When planning an exchange of any kind with someone you don’t know well, agree to meet the person at this location and tell them that the police are monitoring the site by video. This will help to ensure your safety,” Shumpert said. The safety exchange is located at 119 West Berry Rd. in South Congaree. If using a GPS to find it, the town and zip code is West Columbia, SC, 29170. It is just across the parking lot from the town hall and police headquarters and is well marked by a sign designating it as the exchange area. The sign was purchased by the police department at a small cost. It was installed by Chief Shumpert who dug the hole and affixed the sign to the metal post the department already had.