Manatee County Sheriff's Office offers safe place for online purchases

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BRADENTON, Fla. – Every day, technology brings people closer together; whether its online dating, or buying and selling items on Craigslist. But sometimes when people meet for the first time away from the computer, it can be dangerous.

Now a Suncoast law enforcement agency is doing its part to make those face to face meetings a little safer.

They are headlines we read almost every day; innocent people becoming the victims of crime while meeting with someone they met online.

The manatee county sheriff's office wants to delete this sort of activity from happening, and a couple of parking spaces may be the answer.

“We are doing this as a crime prevention tool,” says Manatee County Sheriff’s office spokesman Dave Bristow.

Two parking spaces at the sheriff's office headquarters in Bradenton have been designated ‘safe sale parking.’ “We got the idea a couple of months ago. Hillsborough County is doing it, and other counties around the country are doing it. It just seemed like a good idea.”

The spaces are easily identifiable by the blue paint.

Here's how it works. “You call someone and you say, yeah…I’m interested in buying whatever. They say, okay, where should we meet? Well, you come to the sheriff's office to meet,” says Bristow.

It’s probably the safest place you can meet. “We have deputies coming in and out of buildings, cameras, it's well lit and a perfect area for transactions.”

And a perfect alternative to other meeting spots, where crimes can happen at any time.

ABC 7's Max Winitz will have more on this story tonight on ABC 7 News.