Columbia Police warn of the dangers of buying and selling items to strangers

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is urging people to stay safe when making in-person transactions for things they sell to strangers online.

There were two armed robberies this week, according to Columbia Police Department press release. The press release said both of the victims were meeting up to purchase an Xbox gaming system from a seller on Facebook Marketplace.

Columbia Community Relations Director Steven Sapp said the police department recommends meeting people at a public place, like a well lit parking lot. He also said the police department doesn't mind being a safe space for exchanges. 

“We always have the lobby of the Columbia Police department open 24 hours a day and seven days a week," Sapp said. 

According to police records, one of the armed robberies happened in a public area, like the one police recommend.

“Sometimes things just go wrong, and that's a fact of life. But, if we take care of those things that we know to do, the chances are that 99% of the time things will go ok," Sapp said. 

Jennica Gomez frequently buys and sells things on Facebook Marketplace. She said she probably puts more trust into people than she should when it comes time to meet up.

"I tend to be a trusting person, so I would probably be one of those people that would be caught off guard," she said. 

Although she is trusting, Gomez said she still tries to make sure she meets to buy and sell in a safe place. 

“I just like to meet at a public place just so that there is not even a chance that anything bad can happen, like parking lots of grocery stores and stuff like that," she said. 

Sapp also recommended letting people know where you were going to do the transaction is another good way to ensure your safety. 

Gomez said although this may not be her strong suit, it is good advice.  

"I have not always let someone know where I was going, so I definitely think that's a way to stay safe in these situations, just to give someone the address where you're going to be at." she said. 

The Columbia Police Department said in a press release investigations are still on-going for the two armed robberies that occurred Tuesday.