Police urge use of 'safe exchange zones' after shooting in Roanoke


ROANOKE, Va. – Police said it was a self-defense shooting. A man meeting with people he had spoken with online to sell a motorcycle, but when they tried to rob him, he shot.

It's a warning to online shoppers.

"A lot of crime can come from buying something from social media -- robbery, attempted abduction, abduction, anything like that," said Chad Beheler, community outreach deputy for the Roanoke County Sheriff's Office.

When shopping on Craigslist or Facebook, police said to use a safe exchange zone. The zones exist in multiple locations throughout our area.

Police said online shopping may be easy, but isn't always safe.

"Unfortunately, not everybody has good intentions and if you buy something from someone you don't know you want to make sure you're getting what's advertised," said Sgt. Tim Lawless, with the Vinton Police Department.

All of the safe exchange zones in our area have 24-hour surveillance and are very close to local law enforcement in case something goes wrong.

"We just wanted a safe place for the citizens to feel comfortable, to have a place they can exchange items they find on Facebook or Craigslist," said Lawless.

Lawless said the safe zones are not only helpful for online sales, but for custody exchanges. Parents can drop off their kids and have everything on video just in case.