Low-level fraud has fallen significantly since the introduction of a safe trade zone by Taupō District Council and Police.
The trade zone, in the west car park of AC Baths, provides a designated area for members of the public to exchange items they have organised to buy or exchange online.
Detective John Goddard proposed the idea of a safe trade area after seeing several online frauds that could have been prevented if the parties involved had a safe meeting place.
Similar initiatives have been used in the US, where John was first introduced to the idea. He recognised its potential for Taupō and the zone was launched there late last year.
“Police want people be safe and feel safe, and the safe trade zone is a low-cost and low-risk solution to a big problem,” says John.
“This has been very successful and we’ve seen a significant reduction in low level fraud as people use that safe trade area.
“It’s popular with the community and I think it gives people confidence knowing that they are in a safe, designated area with plenty of security.”
The initiative was supported by Taupō District Council, and Mayor David Trewavas is pleased with its progress.
“It’s great to see this area is being used by our community and is helping to keep them safe,” he says. “I encourage anyone exchanging items to use this area as a simple yet effective way to keep themselves safe.”
The safe trade zone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is well lit at night and is covered by a high-quality CCTV camera.
Safe trade tips
Police and council recommend keeping the following safety tips in mind when conducting transactions:
- do not go to a transaction alone;
- make sure a friend or family member is aware of the transaction details;
- insist on meeting in the safe trade zone;
- do not go into someone else’s house, and do not allow them into yours;
- complete the transaction during daylight hours;
- be extra cautious when buying or selling valuable items such as vehicles and jewellery;
- only use cash to complete your transactions and never deposit money into a person’s account;
- trust your instincts - if it sounds like a scam, it probably is; and,
- if somebody is not willing to come to the safe trade zone, it’s probably not a legitimate transaction.