Kincardine safe exchange zone helps buyers and sellers trade safely



By Barb McKay


Have you ever wanted to sell an item online but worried about strangers coming to your home to buy it? A new community safe exchange zone in Kincardine will help to solve that problem.


Project Safe Trade was launched Friday at the South Bruce OPP detachment on Kincardine Avenue. The project was developed as a pilot by the Essex County OPP detachment two years ago and has been picked up by communities across Ontario. The idea is to designate a public area that can be used to complete online transactions for items posted on sites like Swap and Sell and Kijiji to help protect buyers and sellers from criminal behaviour such as fraud or assault.


The idea was picked up by the Kincardine Safe Community Committee a year ago with the intent to set up a community safe exchange zone in the parking lot the OPP detachment in Kincardine. The area is highly visible, and while police will not mediate in transactions, they hope the fact that officers are nearby will be enough of a deterrent for would-be criminals.


“What’s important is that it’s a public area,” Detachment Commander Insp. Dana Earley said. “We’re trying to discourage people from inviting unknown persons to their homes or meeting in secluded areas. Some people want to view items before they buy them and this is a safe place for them to do that.”


Earley said the Internet has made it convenient for people to buy and sell items, but it also increases instances of fraud and people need be vigilant.


“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”


Instances of fraud in the South Bruce detachment area are cause for concern. In Kincardine alone, over the past couple of months, victims have lost a total of $50,000. In a separate incident, reported last week, a local resident was allegedly bilked out of $1.2 million by a Huron-Kinloss woman.


The detachment has designated two parking spaces next to visitor parking that are clearly marked as Project Safe Trade. Community safe exchange zone signs have also been installed thanks to a $500 donation from the Kincardine Police Services Board.


“I think it’s a great idea,” said Municipality of Kincardine Mayor Anne Eadie, who attended Friday’s launch. “It’s good that you are being proactive on this. Fraud does happen and it’s good to do what you can (to prevent it).”


The Kincardine Safe Community Committee is working on other initiatives and is looking for individuals to join in the effort to make the community a safer place for everyone. The committee meets monthly.


“We welcome input from our community and in order to do that we need people at our table,” said Const. Kevin Martin.