POLICE Department

Advice To Citizens Regarding Safe Transactions

It is common for citizens to buy and sell property to people where the source of the transaction originated via the internet, newspaper, or other means of modem commerce. In instances where the buyer and seller are not known to each other, personal safety is an important factor in the transaction. Unfortunately, in today's society criminals scour the internet and newspapers looking for opportunities to victimize buyers and sellers. In some cases, criminals may even offer for sale items that were obtained through criminal or other illegitimate means. Given these factors, it is easy to see why safety and security is an important factor in concluding transactions where the buyer and sell are not known to each other. To assist those who choose to engage in these type transactions, the Houston Police Department offers the following safety tips.

  • Never meet anyone at your home whether buying or selling. Always meet in a public place such as a restaurant or shopping center or anywhere where there is a high volume of pedestrian or vehicle traffic. During business hours, a parking lot of a government institution such as a police department, fire department, or library is an excellent public meeting location;
  • A void meeting at night but if you must then choose a location that is well lit and has a high volume of pedestrian or vehicular traffic as the presence of other people provides an additional measure of safety;
  • Speaking of additional people, it is recommended that regardless of the location and time you are meeting a prospective buyer or seller always take a family member or friend to observe and witness the transaction; finally,
  • Be aware that some criminals use financial or personal information such as credit cards or driver's license information to engage in identity theft and other financial crimes. Be careful when sharing such personal information.
If you choose to use the parking lot of a police station as a meeting location to sell or exchange goods, please remember that police officers generally are prohibited from engaging in or interfering with private business transactions. Consequently, Houston Police officers will not engage in the transaction by running serial numbers to determine whether a particular item has been reported stolen or missing, nor will officers be available to witness the sale or exchange of goods. If a dispute arises during the buying or selling of goods or services remember to exercise your right to terminate the transaction.