Following a woman’s death while trying to sell her daughter’s iPhone in Dallas, police departments in North Texas are urgently reminding residents to utilize their safe exchange zones.
Martha Teran, 42, was fatally shot Sunday in the parking lot of Medieval Times in Dallas, according to police. She was meeting the suspects to sell her daughter’s iPhone via the OfferUp app, her family told WFAA-TV.
On social media, the Southlake Department of Public Safety wrote that Teran’s death “prompted ... this important reminder” that the department offers a safe exchange zone outside the DPS Headquarters. The Denton Police Department also posted reminders that it offered the same service.
Many law enforcement agencies have designated parking spaces or other areas in or near their headquarters in recent years as exchnge zones, where residents can meet to legally buy or sell items, usually based on an ad posted online. They can also be used for child custody exchanges, and many are under 24-hour surveillance.
Many agencies, such as Southlake DPS, also allow residents to meet in the headquarters lobby for exchanges.
The exchange zones have become common in most DFW cities’ police departments, including the major cities of Fort Worth and Arlington, as well as smaller suburbs such as Keller, Roanoke, Burleson and North Richland Hills.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Dallas Police Department didn’t have any updates in the case of the shooting of Teran. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact Homicide Det. Sayers at 214-671-3647. Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The Fort Worth Police Department offers the following tips for making e-commerce exchanges with strangers:
- Never meet anyone at your home or their 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. Never meet in out of the way locations.
- Never conduct business inside of a vehicle.
- Avoid 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.
- 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.
- 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. Never list your home address, phone number, or anything else that could be used to identify you.
- If a dispute arises during the buying or selling of goods or services remember to exercise your right to terminate the transaction.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Conduct research on both the product you are buying and the person selling to/buying from.
- Be wary of individuals who solicit your business without your permission.
- Don’t allow the other party to change the location once you arrive.