LITTLE CURRENT—The World Wide Web has revolutionized trade between companies and individuals, connecting people who want to sell or trade items like never before, but that connectivity has a dark side—a rise in assaults and theft connected when those trades connect in the real world. The most recently famous of those crimes was the case of Tim Bosma, who was murdered by a pair of men who responded to Mr. Bosma’s online advertisement to sell his truck. Every day hundreds, if not thousands, of less heinous crimes take place, most notably the snatch and grab of cellphones from unsuspecting victims meeting to complete an online transaction in person.
The Manitoulin-Espanola OPP detachment and the Northeast Town have charted a proactive course to combat online trading crime with the unveiling of Manitoulin’s first Project Safe Trade site—located in the parking lot of the Little Current OPP detachment building.
“There is always someone here,” noted Detachment Commander Staff Sergeant Kevin Webb as he joined Northeast Town CAO Dave Williamson, Community Services Officer Constable Marie Ford and OPP summer student Kylie Cranston in unveiling the Safe Trade site in a brief ceremony held on Thursday, June 28.
Detachment Commander Webb noted that even the savviest of online buyers and sellers can be taken by unscrupulous thieves relating an example of an experience of a close acquaintance who fell victim.
“She was standing outside a store waiting for the person she had made arrangements with online looking at her phone when a man approached her,” he said. “The man shoved her backwards, grabbed the phone out of her hands and took off.”
A far less tragic outcome than the Bosma case perhaps, but one that is being repeated with alarming frequency all across the globe.
“Now people have a safer place to meet people they have connected with online,” noted Constable Ford. “You still need to be cautious when making online arrangements, but it is a lot safer to meet them here just outside the station.”
There is no cost associated with the Safe Trade site, aside from the addition of a sign designating the site and a painted emblem on the parking spot designated for the site.
“It’s all about keeping people safe,” said Staff Sergeant Webb. “This is really a no-brainer,” agreed Mr. Williamson, “we were happy to help make this happen.”
The site will be available at all hours, but the OPP caution people to remain vigilant and cautious when dealing and meeting with people they only know through an online connection. “It really is a lot better to be a little bit safe than a lot sorry,” said Constable Ford.