Door-to-door alert: “Solicitor” trying the door

February 3, 2009 at 10:05 pm | In Door-to-door alert | 22 Comments

A note we just got about a suspicious “solicitor” reminds us of something that happened here a couple nights ago – read on:

First, the note we just received from Peter in Morgan Junction:

My wife was home tonight, and at around 7:15pm someone pounded on the door, and pulled on the handle several times. The same person spoke with our next-door neighbor, and he said he was selling the Sunday paper, but he said the guy was acting very strangely.

I doubt he’s an over-exuberant salesman – I don’t like that he pulled on our door handle. Don’t know his motivation, but I do think it’s weird.

This jolted us into remembering that two nights ago, somebody showed up on our doorstep and rattled the screen door rather than just knocking. We routinely ignore the door (while making lots of noise so they know people are home) if we’re not expecting someone. They went away after a moment or two and we couldn’t see anything constituting a description.

22 Comments

  1. I had a similar experience on Saturday during the day. Polite, but kind of a weird situation, giving away a free subscription for Monday-Saturday if you paid for Sunday only. Blond, glasses, blue eyes, medium build (5″10) and about 190lbs. I know you guys recommended me to call circulation, but I totally spaced on it until I read this! He was kind of bothered when I declined (a few times), saying “really, you don’t want to help out the circulation numbers” or something of the like. But then left peacefully. I don’t have a screen door or anything, but the dogs were on alert!

    Comment by Krystal — 10:25 pm February 3, 2009 #

  2. Krystal, thanks for posting – I tried to find your note to include in this post and my e-mailbox search wasn’t cooperating – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:43 pm February 3, 2009 #

  3. We had the same visitor this evening, around the same time (we’re on 47th/Raymond). Very polite, said he was a “route supervisor” and wanted to know if we wanted to take the Seattle Times. I said no thanks, and he went away. But it was definitely odd.

    Comment by SeaviewSherman — 11:01 pm February 3, 2009 #

  4. This same guy knocked on my apartment door at about 5:45 this evening 6900 block of california ave. My fiance opened the door and he told us that he was going around trying to help the local teenage paper boy but signing us up for a subscription…. I found it really odd since 1 i already have a subscription and 2 my paper boy is in his late 40′s!

    Comment by Cheri Berri! — 11:13 pm February 3, 2009 #

  5. OK — dumb question: has anyone yet called Seattle Times to see if they authorized anyone to be out there selling door to door?

    Comment by Big Al (No, Not THAT One) — 11:13 pm February 3, 2009 #

  6. I was approached by a sales rep, while walking my dog, named Tony Romero (sales rep name, not my dog!) last SAT afternoon. He was offering a deal where you get the paper everyday for the price of the Sunday paper. It was a 2-month subscription that you could cancel anytime (so he said at least).

    He had a partner and they were working one side of the street each. He had a badge and a clipboard with Seattle Times forms.

    I was (very) stupid and gave him my credit card information on the street. I didn’t realize it was pre-pay only until after filling out the form. He definitely was a sales man (constantly trying to close the sale), but he was polite and not pushy….totally not threatening.

    The paper started showing up today, so I’m glad I wasn’t scammed!

    Comment by Yo — 11:43 pm February 3, 2009 #

  7. My credit card has a pending transaction for $20.

    So, it looks like I was indeed lucky to be dealing with legitimate sales rep.

    I was nervous after reading this post!

    Comment by Yo — 11:53 pm February 3, 2009 #

  8. not to be crass, well ok a bit, but this is why we have more and more crime here in WS, for a town full of people who are supposedly educated and well read, i would think after someone tried to open your door you geniuses would have called 911?!!?! at least those of us who watch tv in stead of reading books know that much.

    Comment by bb — 6:35 am February 4, 2009 #

  9. Was that really necessary, bb? I am getting irritated by all of the harsh, critical, and flaming comments that have been posted lately to the WSB stories. We’re all neighbors – trying to get through this life – and I for one want WSB to be a safe forum for connecting with one another and helping each other out. Where you can post your thoughts without fearing you’ll be called a sarcastic “genius” or an idiot or whatever.

    Comment by hutchbec — 7:26 am February 4, 2009 #

  10. I had someone come by last week to sell the Seattle Times. He was very polite. It was the same deal, $20. I was wanting to sign up again for the paper so I ordered but didn’t give my card, just told him to bill me.

    Comment by Bonnie — 7:36 am February 4, 2009 #

  11. lol @ the “i’m smartr tahn u cuz i watch tv’z” comment

    This sort of reminds me of the time the guy distributing garlic jims coupon flyers in my neighborhood (hello, heard of the mail?) actually walked into my house and said loudly, “Knock knock!”. He was escorted back outside in a very brusque manner but it wasn’t until he wandered into my back yard instead of going back to the street that I became hostile towards him. He seemed confused, I think he was just a moron.

    Comment by austin — 7:50 am February 4, 2009 #

  12. bb-I called 911 a few times on my neighbors who were dealing drugs (I saw the transaction!) and the cops never came. Personally, my experiences with non-heath related calls (although posing a threat to the public) haven’t worked that well. But that’s just me! But I still believe that if anyone feels they are in a dangerous situation, the should call 911. In my encounter, I did not feel at risk, so I let it go.

    Comment by Krystal — 7:59 am February 4, 2009 #

  13. I have been a weekend subscriber to the Times for years, and they are frequently calling me to offer the same deal: free weekday service for 3 months. I told them to take me off the list of people to call for this and they still do it.

    Comment by swimcat — 9:30 am February 4, 2009 #

  14. I had someone at my door on Saturday afternoon who was similar in appearance to Krystal’s post. No clipboard or ID visible, but asked if I received a paper today. I lied and told him yes (because I figured he was selling). He asked if I subscribed daily, and I said yes. He asked whether which paper. He then said that he was selling subscriptions and glad that I was being taken care of, and have a nice day. Very pleasant, brief conversation and I had no cause for alarm about him. This was at Fauntleroy/Dawson.

    Comment by Sue — 9:38 am February 4, 2009 #

  15. BTW, I did watch him after he left. He went to my neighbor’s house (who I knew was not home) and he left about 30 seconds after reaching the door and getting no answer, and then proceeded to the next two houses.

    Comment by Sue — 9:40 am February 4, 2009 #

  16. This is the 10th or 11th story on this topic in the past year. WSB has done an excellent job of communicating these stories. REMEMBER, no reputable company will send anyone door to door “selling you” anything direct. Some will drop leaflets or brochures. Seattle Times does open sales promotions by giving you a newspaper with a subscription card. 99% chance is that these guys are casing your house and if you act weak or vulnerable, they will take advantage of you. If you open the door, be prepared for the result of their actions and their assessing your trepidation. NEVER open your door to ANYONE you do not know.

    Comment by GoHome — 9:42 am February 4, 2009 #

  17. I had someone come to my door last night 2/3/09 at about 8:45 pm. I was in a back bedroom but my dog was barking. I came out to see what she was barking at and I saw the guy knocking on our back door. I did not open the door but said what do you want, he held up a clip board and I said I am not interested. He waved and walked away. I too watched him go to my neighbors. I told my husband isnt it a little late to be selling something door to door? He thought so as well. I prefer the calls if they want to try and sell me the paper.

    Comment by Lola — 10:44 am February 4, 2009 #

  18. Same situation at my house last night. Friendly young guy, dark hair, nicely dressed, came a-knocking at around 7:30pm. I usually (almost always) open the door. The guy was not wearing a badge, but had a clip board, and used the same pitch as previously posted (helping out the paperboy, full week for the cost of Sunday paper only). There was nothing suspicious or concerning about him. I told him that I did all my reading on-line (he laughed and said that he has been hearing that a lot lately). Tried one last attempt to get me sign up and I just told him that I thought newspapers were a waste of natural resources and i would refuse a subscription even if they were offering it for free. He was extremely polite when he left and went on to the next house. As a reminder: not everyone is a criminal; not everyone is out to stake our homes or take advantage of us; not everyone is trying to steal our dogs. I always encourage due diligence and never reprimand people for having a wary eye, but I also maintain a high level of respect for those folks that are trying to earn a dollar in a community that refuses to open a door or can only holler “get away”. Even if justified, it is sad to see so many people operating out of fear.

    Comment by shed22 — 12:41 pm February 4, 2009 #

  19. If you see something suspicious, the police want to know. They may not be able to respond quickly as emergencies get priority.

    Nonetheless, if your sighting has similarities to activity reported by other citizens, it can give them something solid to work with and more motivation to respond (the more calls on a subject the more likely the response).

    However, I agree that if the situation is not putting you or someone else at immediate risk, 9-1-1 is NOT the best option.

    In this situation, some door to door vendors ARE legitimate, but need to and will have ID from the Co.and permit. If you answer the door at all – Bring your phone to the door, ask for it, take their info down and check it out!!! While you are at it, write down person’s description, time of day etc. If you think it’s not legit, you now have evidence that can be supplied to police. I’m with Big Al on this one; take initiative: call the Times. THEN call police if appropriate.

    Here are some alternate phone #s – post them on the fridge for easy access!

    To report a crime that is not in progress to the NON-EMERGENCY LINE, call (206) 625-5011 and select 8 from the menu.

    or

    SW Precinct Front Desk – (206) 733-9800(7am-11pm)

    others:

    Hate Crimes (non emergency): 206-684-4500

    Graffiti Hotline 206-233-7241

    Southwest Community Policing Team – (206) 615-1976
    Call for chronic, on-going problems that have not been resolved by calling 9-1-1.

    Comment by Ann — 3:49 pm February 4, 2009 #

  20. tuesday night [2/3] a young man, glasses, blond hair, blue eyes, knocked on our door in the Genessee Hill area claiming to be from the ACLU and soliciting donations. He had literature on his clipboard all looking “real” and said they were soliciting funds to support their efforts to overturn Prop 8 [same-sex marriage] in California. He was soliciting sign-up for monthly donations on your credit card.

    Comment by pm — 4:29 pm February 4, 2009 #

  21. This same guy came to my door on Friday. He opened my screen door, tried to sell me the paper, he had nothing in his hands. I told him I was not interested and he left. It was weird, and reading some of these posts I am a bit concerned.

    Comment by H — 6:49 pm February 4, 2009 #

  22. shed22, not sure you really get it, do you?

    Comment by WTF — 7:14 pm February 4, 2009 #

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