By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Social media and other online sites can be used to buy and sell. But for years, police have warned about meeting someone you don’t know. Now one department is being proactive.

The bright lines catch your attention and they’re supposed to.

“We designed these two parking spots,” Big Lake Police Capt. Matt Hayen said.

Big Lake Police began inviting people to exchange goods in their lot a few years ago, but there wasn’t a designated place. Now green marks the spot.

“That way we know, and other people know, that when we see two vehicles parked in these spots, there’s an exchange going on,” Hayen said.

And whoever pulls in is on camera. Video records 24/7. Several people have met in the last few weeks since police made the change. Hayen believes it’s important to have a safe place to meet.

“You just never know who you’re going to meet online. You don’t know if it’s somebody legit or not, if somebody’s going to scam you,” Hayen said.

Even with the new meet-up spot, Hayen says consumers should still be aware of their surroundings.

“Still keep your guard up. It’s a safe spot but when you come here, keep your eyes open to who it is in the vehicle, what they’re wearing. Get a good description of them,” Hayen said.

If you don’t have a safe meeting space nearby, police suggest meeting in a busy, well-lit area. If someone insists on meeting in a specific place you’re not comfortable with, trust your gut.

Jennifer Mayerle