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'Safe zone' near jail is for transactions with strangers
Safe zone
Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes stands by the safe zone he has designated in front of the jail on Paul Sikes Road while explaining it to reporters Thursday. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine

Last January, an elderly Georgia couple was killed after meeting with a man who posted his classic car for sale on Craigslist.

According to research done by Advanced Interactive Media Group, as of January this year, more than 100 slayings have been linked to Craigslist postings.

Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes has implemented a “safe zone” to keep people from being added to those statistics and provide a safe area away from people’s private residence to meet for transactions or needed exchanges.

“I saw an article that Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie had written. … They did one of these in Effingham County, and I thought it was a great idea and felt that we needed to implement it here,” Sikes said during a news conference held Thursday at the Liberty County Jail on Paul Sikes Road.

There is now a designated parking area marked with red paint and a sign. It is a reserved space marked as a safe transaction zone for Internet, EBay and Craigslist purchases as well as a neutral spot for child custody exchanges.  

Sikes said the safe zone is under video surveillance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and law-enforcement officials are inside the building and patrolling the jail. He said if people are not willing to meet at the safe zone, it may be wise not to complete the deal.

“If you don’t know the person and they are unwilling to meet you at a safe zone like this, don’t do it,” Sikes said.

He added that people should use common sense. If the deal seems too good to be true, it likely is, he said.

The sheriff said the safe zone also provides a safe place for families dealing with child-custody issues to meet.

“We are constantly having people call the office and ask where they can do a child transfer or something of that nature,” Sikes said.

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