NORTH PERTH – During its April 12 meeting, North Perth council voted in favour of dedicating two parking spots at the municipal administration office to the Ontario Provincial Police Project Safe Trade. As more people conduct private business transactions online, there has been a nationwide increase in crime concerning these transactions.
In response to this trend, the OPP has created Project Safe Trade, which includes the establishment of Safe Trade Zones in the parking lots of OPP detachments. The project started as a pilot program in 2016 in Essex County and has since expanded to at least a dozen other OPP detachments across the province. Wellington County OPP launched the project in March 2021.
Creating a Safe Trade Zone is about moving online transactions away from secluded parking lots, private residences and bringing them to a public place. This reduces the likelihood of citizens falling victim to scams or more serious crimes.
North Perth recently received correspondence from a private citizen, Becky Nauta, requesting the establishment of a Safe Trade Zone in North Perth. Nauta, with the support of the North Perth OPP, proposed that two parking spaces at the municipal office in Listowel be dedicated as Safe Trade Zones.
Staff estimates the cost of the installation of signs will be $300 and Nauta is agreeable to help source and fundraise if required. The parking spaces would still be available for use by patrons of the municipal office when not being used by citizens to conduct transactions.
Coun. Matt Duncan asked if there were plans for video surveillance of the two parking spots.
“At this time we are not going to go that far,” said CAO Kriss Snell. “We felt that it is in an OPP area in a well-lit parking spot.”
When people are conducting transactions initiated online, the OPP recommends meeting in person in a busy public place during daylight hours to inspect the product. They also encourage bringing a trusted friend or family member along as a witness but if you must go alone, tell a friend or family member when and where you are meeting someone.
Always bring a cell phone in case you need to call for help.
The OPP advises people not to invite a stranger into their home. It allows them access to the layout of your house, gives them information regarding alarm systems or dogs and provides a chance to see any valuables you may have. Never tell your schedule to a stranger because they do not need to know when you will not be home.
Do not give out personal or banking information such as a social insurance number, bank account or credit card number. Don’t erase any emails, texts or voicemails between yourself and the seller or buyer.
Finally, the OPP recommend keeping things local and advise buyers never to mail a cheque or wire money to sellers.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner