Here’s What a Handshake Symbol on a Parking Space Signifies

In Pembroke, Ontario, new insignias have been added to certain parking spots.

These marked areas, located outside the Pembroke OPP station at 77 International Dr., feature a handshake symbol indicating their designation as community safety zones for online transactions.

The Upper Ottawa Valley OPP recommends these locations for individuals who need to meet in person to complete online purchases, ensuring everyone’s safety.

An OPP news release states that “Project Safe Trade aims to establish a ‘community safety zone’ at an OPP detachment parking lot to facilitate online property transactions.” The initiative encourages moving online transactions from private areas, like parking lots and homes, to these safer public spaces.

Appointments are not necessary; these secure trading locations will be available at all times.

With the busy holiday season approaching, it’s an ideal time to introduce Project Safe Trade locally. Steph Neufeld, commander of the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP detachment, explained that online property transactions are increasing, and the UOV OPP is excited to launch this community safety initiative to reduce offenses related to online marketplace transactions. Project Safe Trade and similar collaborative efforts can help reduce victimization and harm within our communities.

Const. Mike Mahon informed CTV News that these areas also help prevent potential fraud.

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” he said. “If you’re asking to meet here and the other party is hesitant, that’s a cause for concern.”

The OPP clarified that police will not act as witnesses, mediators, or document providers for transactions. However, if an officer is called, they will respond and only intervene if the transaction becomes a criminal matter.

There are other ways to stay safe when meeting strangers online for financial transactions if you choose not to use these designated spots:

  • Meet in a busy public area
  • Bring a trusted friend or family member as a witness
  • Conduct transactions during daylight hours
  • Retain emails, texts, or voicemails between yourself and the buyer/seller

Technology analyst Carmi Levy advises that despite the Christmas season rush, it’s crucial to slow down and do some research.

“Do your due diligence on the person selling the item. Look into their background, see what else they’ve sold, and check how other buyers have reviewed their transactions,” Levy suggested. “Insist on inspecting the actual device before handing over any money. Make sure it powers on and works as expected before you pay for it.”

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