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Online deal-making gone awry has prompted metro Phoenix police departments to begin offering “safe exchange zones” for people to meet and exchange items. 

A case out of Goodyear this week served as a reminder to use police lobbies or parking lot areas designed for safer exchanges. On Tuesday, a woman agreed to meet a man at Quiktrip on Estrella Parkway to sell a $950 cell phone she’d posted on OfferUp, according to a probable cause statement provided by police in a court document.

The woman said the man gave her $400, grabbed the phone and jumped into a car driven by another man, the document said. The woman told police she jumped into the car to get the phone back when the driver pulled a gun and threatened to kill her and a friend that was with her, the document said.

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Police arrested Dairreon “Dre” Jackson and Michel Hetlage-Burch, both 19, Tuesday in connection with the robbery, the document said. Both face multiple charges, including armed robbery with a deadly weapon. Hetlage-Burch faces additional charges of attempted second-degree murder, according to court documents.

Consider using a safe zone

Several Phoenix area police departments offer up their facilities for people to meet to conduct such transactions in a more secure environment.

In January, Mesa police joined in the effort, offering up its lobbies or designated parking lots. The “safe space” policy isn’t associated with any specific incident, they said, although it came three months after a man was killed in a Mesa hotel parking lot while conducting such a transaction with another man.

In Paradise Valley, police have four parking spaces with signs designating them as safe exchange zones at its station.

“We make it known to the residents here that this is a safe zone, and it’s monitored by video monitoring equipment,” Paradise Valley Detective Derek Hoelscher said. “We recommend that people do their business transactions during a safe time of day, but it is technically available on a 24-hour basis.”

Check with the department in your area, but here is a partial list of safe exchange zones:

  • Mesa Police headquarters:  130 N. Robson, Mesa.
  • Fiesta Division Substation:  1010 W. Grove Ave., Mesa.
  • Central Division Substation:  120 N. Robson, Mesa.
  • Red Mountain Division Substation:  4333 E. University Drive, Mesa.
  • Superstition Division Substation:  2430 S. Ellsworth Road, Mesa.
  • Paradise Valley Police Department:  6433 E Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley.
  • Chandler Police Department:  250 E. Chicago Street, Chandler.
  • Hardy Substation, 8201 S. Hardy Drive, Tempe.
  • Apache Substation, 1855 E. Apache Blvd, Tempe.
  • Tempe PD Headquarters, 120 E 5th St. , Tempe. 

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