KPD: Sell items to potential buyers at community meet up spot, not store parking lots

KENNEWICK, Wash. — An 18-year-old man was robbed at a Kennewick Walgreens on Sunday afternoon after trying to sell a cell phone to two teens he met online. While it may have seemed like a safe area, police say there are other options.

At many departments across the Tri-Cities, a community meet up spot is posted in front of police stations, allowing a safe haven for potential sellers and buyers.

“We have these designated parking spots here at the Kennewick Police Department where people can arrange to meet in a safe place,” said Kennewick Police Lt. Aaron Clem. “They’re under video surveillance here from the police department and we have a phone that goes directly to our 911 center.”

The phone at the Kennewick Police Department is a few feet away from the sign posted in the parking lot.

RELATED: 13-year-old arrested for armed robbery, police looking for second juvenile suspect

Clem said selling items to people you don’t know online can be dangerous because you don’t know who’s on the other end. If the buyer doesn’t want to meet at a police station, Clem said that’s not a good sign.

“If you can arrange to meet here, then maybe you’ll have a safer place,” he explained. “I think it would give somebody that has bad intentions — maybe second thoughts about meeting at a police station to do their criminal activities.”

One teen involved in the robbery apparently showed a gun while the other beat up the man. They got away with the phone. Fortunately, officers were able to track down one 13-year-old and arrest him. The other, believed to be a 14-year-old boy, is still on the loose.