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Retired local cop aims to make Craigslist sales "robbery proof"

Posted at 9:19 PM, Nov 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 00:20:54-05

Many people will try to find the perfect holiday gift online this year - but with websites like Craigslist that can put them at risk for robbers. 

Because of the very real threat of meeting up to exchange items, a retired police detective is hoping "Swap Safe" will make all the difference. 

On December 1, Gary Lawrence’s goal to make craigslist swaps “robbery proof” will begin. That's when his new company opens for business.

The idea for the business began in 2010, when he was still on the job. 

“We started seeing more and more of (robberies) and my partner would always say something needs to be done," Lawrence said. " You know what your intentions are but you don’t know the other person’s intentions."

In April, he retired after three decades on the force and turned his ideas into Swap Safe, which kicks in after a buyer and seller agree on a price. 

At Swapsafe.org, the seller registers the item, pays a flat fee of $10 and gets an ID number.

“Once someone registers, they come into a store,” said Lawrence.

10news met Lawrence at Postal Center Plus in El Cajon, one of seven locations in the county.    

“The staff checks the ID, checks the item and secures it,” said Lawrence.

Eventually, the buyer goes into the same store.  The buyer can then check out the item and, if they are still interested, they pay in cash.

Later the seller goes in and claims the cash, completing the sale without any visits to someone's house or any other meeting place.

"That makes it 100% robbery proof,” said Lawrence, “The huge advantage of Swap Safe is the buyers and sellers never have to meet face to face.”