For residents carrying out transactions through Craigslist and other online venues, there are now three locations on Hennepin County Sheriff's Office property that offer a measure of safety.

Swap Spots opened this week and are not only for want-ad transactions, but for child-custody exchanges or other handoffs that at times can be fraught with uncertainty.

The Swap Spots are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

"While many people who conduct business online are honest and sincere in buying and selling their items, there are those who use it to facilitate their crimes," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement. "There is no guarantee that a Swap Spot location will provide a greater level of safety compared to other public locations. Members of the public, however, may feel safer knowing that a Swap Spot location is available when considering making transactions with people they don't know."

The locations are up and running at:

• Sheriff's Water Patrol, 4141 Shoreline Drive, Spring Park.

• Enforcement Services Division, 9401 83rd Av. N., Brooklyn Park.

• Public Safety Facility (jail), 401 S. 4th Av., Minneapolis.

"We got the idea from the Boca Raton Police Department in Florida," said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Rebecca Gilbuena. "They call their program 'Safe Exchange Zones.' "

Sheriff's Office personnel will not be involved in transactions or log them. If a buyer or seller wants a deputy present, the office will try to accommodate the request.

Paul Walsh