Police say ‘exchange zones’ at police stations allow safe transactions

By Dan Schere

| Published:

Montgomery County police have charged a man with robbing someone at gunpoint who was going to sell him a PlayStation 5 video game system.

Croix Jackson, 19, of Washington, D.C., used a fake name on the online marketplace offerup.com to contact the seller of the game console, and the two planned to meet in Wheaton on Dec. 1, police said Monday in a press release.

Police said Jackson met with the video game system owner in a parking lot in Wheaton. Jackson said he didn’t have money to purchase the system, but would come back the next day to the same parking lot.

Police said when the two met on Dec. 2, Jackson went to the seller’s vehicle, pointed a handgun and demanded the console. Jackson took the PlayStation 5 and fled, police said.

The victim and a witness both described Jackson to police.

Around 4:50 p.m. on Dec. 2, police said, an officer saw someone who matched Jackson’s description in the yard of a home on Arcola Avenue. Officers pursued him, and arrested him on Little Sorrel Way, they said.

Police said they found the handgun in a yard in the 2300 block of Arcola Avenue. Jackson had thrown it away when he was running from officers, police said.

Jackson has been charged so far with one count of armed robbery, police said. He is due to appear in court on Jan. 8, according to court records. Attorney information was not listed.

Police encouraging people to use ‘exchange zones’ at police stations

Police said people who are meeting to buy and sell items from each other can use designated “exchange zones” at each of the department’s six district police stations.

Since 2017, police have encouraged people to arrange to meet in lobbies and parking lots of the police stations when participating in a meetup based an on online transaction. (People can only go into the lobby at the Bethesda police station.)

The exchange zones are:

Headquarters/First District Station (Rockville)

100 Edison Park Drive, Gaithersburg. 240-773-6070

Second District Station (Bethesda- lobby only)

4823 Rugby Avenue, Bethesda. 240-773-6700

Third District Station (Silver Spring)

1002 Milestone Drive, Silver Spring. 240-773-6800

Fourth District Station (Wheaton)

2300 Randolph Road, Wheaton. 240-773-5500

Fifth District Station (Germantown)

20000 Aircraft Drive, Germantown. 240-773-6200

Sixth District Station (Gaithersburg)

45 West Watkins Mill Road, Gaithersburg. 240-773-5700

Sgt. Rebecca Innocenti, a police spokeswoman, said on Monday that the idea of the exchange zones has been an extension of another type of exchange. She said for many years, separated parents have met in parking lots of police stations to exchange children.

“This is kind of the same idea,” she said.

Innocenti said that because police aren’t involved in the gift exchange meetups, she wasn’t sure how frequently they occur.

“We can’t be a witness or asked to observe it, but it’s intended to be a neutral, safe place to meet,” she said.

Police said people using the exchange zones should follow a few safety tips:

  • Meet in a well-populated, well-lit area
  • Tell a family member or friend where you’re going, and take someone with you if possible
  • Tell the other person you’re meeting that you won’t be alone
  • Do not invite strangers into your home
  • Do not give out personal or financial information

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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