In the last week, three people were robbed at gunpoint after meeting up with strangers they met online to sell items to, according to police.

As the holiday shopping season quickly approaches police are reminding people to be careful.

If you buy something online from somebody you do not know, make sure you're being safe.

"I think it's a great way to shop and it's very efficient and very cheap,” said Katie Brown, “You just have to be smart about it."

Katie Brown shops and sells items on Facebook Marketplace; that's how Channel 3 got in touch with her. She's been using the site since it started, but said it's important to be very careful.

"I will not meet in the nighttime. I will not meet in the dark. I will not meet in secluded places,” Brown urged.

Even when Channel 3 met up with Brown she asked what vehicle we would be in, and we met at the police department's safe exchange zone. The safe exchange zone is two marked parking spots that are lit and monitored by video 24/7. They are set aside for people buying and selling items online.

Brown also makes sure to let her husband know when she gets to the place she will be selling items.

"You don't know who is on the other end of your phone screen or your computer screen," urged Brown.

These are all steps Chattanooga officers said everyone should follow when selling items online.

"Try to get just various information about the person you're meeting so you know what to look for,” explained Lt. Daniel Francis with CPD, “Whether it's the type of vehicle they're driving, how many people to expect, that way if you see something that doesn't match up you can always just leave."

Brown said she canceled one sale because the buyer refused to meet during the day.

Along with following safety tips, she also just goes with her gut, "If your heart is telling you something's not right about a situation, then something's probably not right about a situation.”

Safe Exchange Zones in our area:

  • LaFayette Police Department
  • Chattanooga Police Department
  • Dalton Police Department

Here is a full list of Safe Exchange Zones in the United States.