HOUSTON – Following the recent crimes related to buying and selling in Houston, the Houston Police Department has established safe trading areas for people to meet and buy, sell or trade.

“So many people are doing the buy, sell and trade now, and with the amount of people that have been robbed in different places, just over minor stuff, ear pods, cellphones, they give them fake checks, and it cuts down on the fraud aspect of it,” said Houston Police Chief Adam Harmon.

The areas are under video surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning that there will be a the added security of having the video if things do go wrong, resulting in a quicker investigation, at least that is the hope.

There are two areas that are being utilized for this project, the front of the Police Department, which, due to limited space, will mostly be for swapping kids and maybe small items, and the east side of City Hall, which would be more suited for large items such as vehicles and items that require a trailer.

“I know we are going to do one beside City Hall, and then we are probably going to do one in front of the Police Department. We may just use the front of the PD as a drop off for swapping kids because of the limited space. We are going to do two places though, probably drop off here and then right beside City Hall, and that way if they are pulling a trailer or something, they'll be able to get in and out.”

Harmon also issued a warning about meeting with people who won't meet at the safe trading spots.

“If somebody doesn't want to meet you at the safe place, then they aren't worth meeting. That means that there's probably something shady about it.”

There are no official signs up indicating these spaces, they are open for public use.

“They are more than welcome to use them now, we have video there already, we just don't have the signs. It will take a little bit to get the signs in.”

Two recent crimes spurred the decision on. The first was the October 2020 murder that was the result of an attempted robbery. The victim and his daughter came to town to purchase a vehicle and he was jumped in the street and shot.

The second was more recent. A few weeks ago, an ATV was stolen during a transaction in the Hardee's parking lot. The sellers were given a fake cashier's check and the thief made off with the ATV. The amount of the transaction totaled $18,500.

These cases, however, not only cause those involved grief, they also cost the city, county and taxpayers money.

The manpower and hours spent investigating costs the law enforcement agencies money, which is taxpayer money. That is another aspect that Harmon is looking to improve.

“I figure it will cut down on the amount of cases we'll have to work. The two recent cases that we've had have cost the City of Houston a good bit of money. We are having to work that crime, it takes the manpower to work it and then when we lock them up, we are having to feed them, you have court fees and all that kind of stuff, so it has cost the citizens of Houston a good bit of money when this crime takes place. It also gives everybody reassurance, it makes them feel better.”

If a crime does occur at one of the safe spots, however, call 911 immediately and the Police will take it from there, and there will be video evidence to aid in the process.

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