Fairfax police launch ‘Exchange Zones’ for safer e-commerce

WASHINGTON — Local residents have a safer place to publicly swap goods purchased online — two designated parking spaces at the Fairfax County Police Department’s Sully District Station in Chantilly, Virginia.

“It is going to come to other stations in the county, right now this is a pilot program,” said Lt. Matt Owens, the assistant commander of the Sully District station. “It’s a nationwide trend. A lot of people are doing this.”

The parking spots, known as Exchange Zones, are directly underneath a security camera that provides 24/7 surveillance. The surveillance recordings are stored for a minimum of 30 days, Owens said.

Jack Garrison from Boy Scout Troop 1548 of Chantilly thought the Exchange Zones were a good idea.

“You can see what people are doing if anyone has nefarious intentions,” said Garrison who was visiting the government building that houses the police station with his father.

“I think that is a very safe measure and very high-tech,” Garrison said.

D.C. established Exchange Zones in April after a number of robberies were initiated by people posing as internet sellers.

D.C. has three designated Exchange Zone locations:

  • Special Operations Division’s Harbor Patrol at 550 Water St., Southwest
  • Third District Station at 1620 V St., Northwest
  • Sixth District Station at 5002 Hayes St., Northeast

If no dedicated Exchange Zone is convenient for your transaction — universal recommendations from area police departments include meeting during the day or in a well-lit public place with a lot of people around.

“We’d much rather prevent crime than respond to it,” Owens said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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