From the Apopka Police Department

 Since we are entering the holiday season and know that most of our citizens will be shopping online or through “meet-up” APS, the Apopka Police Department would like to remind the citizens of Apopka that we have an area at the police station for residents to conduct exchanges. The increase of face to face transactions from CraigsList, Facebook, LetGo, OfferUp, and other online exchanges has also led to an increase in robberies, thefts, and other crimes. “More and more of our citizens want a location they are comfortable with in order to conduct these types of transactions,” said Chief Mike McKinley.

Over the last few years, the Apopka Police Department investigated a number of crimes associated with face to face transactions from online deals. Often the seller or buyer asks to meet in a closed lot or even at a residence in order to victimize an unsuspecting client. To combat this, APD has taken a lead by providing an area of the police parking lot, which is well lit and under camera surveillance, for the public to use. “We suspect that if one half of the transaction says, ‘let’s meet at the police parking lot,’ a criminal is less likely to want to go through with that transaction,” said Deputy Chief Randy Fernandez. “This should give our residents a better feeling of comfort about the deals they are conducting.”

In addition to online purchases, the parking lot is also available for child custody exchanges for those parents looking for a comfortable place to exchange their children.

The department encourages that in-person exchanges be made between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, when the department is open. While it is not the intent of the Apopka Police Department to provide police personnel or staff to witness any transaction in person, those utilizing the parking lot may call for an officer if they feel threatened or need any serial numbers of any merchandise checked. Department members will not, however, verify or validate the legitimacy of any transaction, item, the integrity of any product or goods, or legality of a sale. Nor will a member offer an opinion regarding any exchange. Officers and employees are not available to participate as official witnesses, give legal advice or settle disputes unless it becomes an emergency situation.

Whether the public utilizes the department’s visitor parking lot or another location, persons engaging in on-line inspired transactions should bring a cell phone, ensure friends or family are aware of the exchange, not meet unknown persons alone, and refuse to conduct an exchange with someone who will not meet at the Police Department or other open public areas. For safety reasons, NO exchange of weapons or firearms should occur on Police Department property.

Policing is not always about investigating crimes, but about preventing them. APD has always provided programs that ensure residents live in a safe and secure community.  Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season from everyone at the Apopka Police Department!

The Apopka Police Department is a full-service, accredited police agency with more than 150 employees including 108 sworn officers and staff. The APD supports the Crimeline program to aid in investigations and to foster safe and anonymous tips that lead to criminal arrests. You can help with these local cases – if you have relevant information, please call (800) 423-TIPS, go to www.crimeline.org, or e-mail APDCID@Apopka.net. Apopka bulletins can be found at the APD website (www.apopkapolice.com); click on “Crimeline”.

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