Those who buy, sell and trade property online now have a safe venue for the physical transactions, thanks to the Whitehall Division of Police.

Whitehall police have established two Internet Purchase Exchange Locations at the police station, 365 S. Yearling Road.

The first location is a driveway in front of the station; the other is in the lobby.

Whitehall Deputy Chief Dan Kelso said the idea is nothing new, but the signs represent the department's first effort to actively promote it.

Child-custody exchanges have occurred at the police department for years, Kelso said, and more recently Kelso has seen people meet for transactions.

"I've seen people (in our driveway) take a television out of the back of a truck, shake hands and leave," he said. "We've never discouraged it, but until now we haven't advertised it."

The sites are not staffed, but police officers are present nearby if needed, Kelso said.

The outreach is in response to residents' requests and a growing trend of buying and selling property via websites that typically require a meeting to conclude the transaction, Kelso said.

A resident at a recent town-hall meeting asked Whitehall police to consider such a program, Kelso said, but then, OfferUp.com, a popular website for local buying and selling, reached out to the department.

Before police further explored the initiative, signs from OfferUp.com arrived in the mail, Kelso said.

The company provided "meetup spot" signs marking the sites at no charge to the city.

"Oddly enough, it was kind of a coincidence," said Kelso, who said he's glad the city can provide residents and others a safe meeting spot.

Resident Lori Elmore, whose family regularly buys items online, said she asked for Whitehall police to help establish a safe-meeting site.

"(The police) listened (at the town meeting) and I'm thrilled we have a safe place we can meet," Elmore said.

Kelso said he's heard several reports of thefts that stemmed from meetings to exchange property, and in at least one instance, a location in Whitehall has been selected as a neutral meeting spot by people from outside the city.

"We're pleased to provide (a safe place to meet) and thank OfferUp," Kelso said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo