Door-to-door alert: Anti-smoking campaign solicitor?

January 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm | In Door-to-door alert, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

This solicitation could be legit. Just in case it’s not, “Concerned Neighbor” wanted to share the story of the solicitor who turned up on their doorstep – read on:

I live on Delridge Wy, around Andover. I just had a man knock at my door, with a woman standing on the sidewalk waiting.

He said that they were out passing out information on a program that the local high schools were coordinating on, that will help keep teens off tobacco and “to stay away from gangs and guns and stuff.” Speaking very quickly, nervously, he handed me a flyer that looks legit, (although it was printed in 2008) from Philip Morris. It was a “Tip Sheet on how to keep teens from smoking.” Nothing about either of the high schools on it. He said they would be around in the neighborhood this next week, with trash bags, cleaning up all the cigarette butts and trash etc. However, then he asked if I could donate to the cause, that any amount of money would help. “Cash or a penny even.”

Now if this is for real, I will go out and donate trash bags that I have bought myself; however, it didn’t make me feel comfortable to have the guy standing at my door, while I would’ve needed to go into my kitchen from my door, to retrieve money or change, leaving him with an open chance to come on in and … whatever. I may be a bit paranoid, but went with my gut on this one. I just wanted to tell you guys in case anyone else has this happen now in the neighborhood.

Comments appreciated if you know whether this is something legit. Thanks!

18 Comments

  1. Yeah these guys don’t seem legit. I live in the area as well and this is the second time they’ve came around (last time was late summer). My mom works at Sealth and has never heard of such a program. When I told them sorry, he copped an attitude and tried to snatch the flyer back. Definatley shady.

    Comment by SaldaƱa — 5:40 pm January 23, 2011 #

  2. Ask to see their ID badge. If they don’t have one then call the cops and report them. Often they are scoping houses for burglary. They want to know when you are home and if you have an alarm. The chump change is gravy.

    Comment by JB — 8:16 pm January 23, 2011 #

  3. We live nearby, close to Andover. When we came home about an hour ago, there was a car idling in front of our house. After we parked, the car left. It looked like the driver was waiting for some one. I wrote gown the license plate, etc. in case I saw something else or there was something suspicious. Thanks for the update- like hearing what’s going on & if we all watch out it might help cut down on crime a little bit.

    Comment by T — 8:22 pm January 23, 2011 #

  4. Substitute “off drugs” for “off tobacco” and we heard the same spiel a few months ago at our front door in Alki. He had no identification or badge, so I stated my usual, “We never give to door-to-door solicitors but we’ll look at your flyer and maybe send a donation by mail”. Teacher/spouse is a high school health educator and had questions about having a speaker for his students, but the flyer was from Seattle Child, listing private schools in the city, no anti-drug association, so instead we reported the incident to police.

    Comment by teacher/mom — 8:47 pm January 23, 2011 #

  5. Thank you for letting everyone know about what happened to you. You were right to not go out of the room to get money even if it was ligiment. This is how we stop illegal things from happening

    Comment by Denise — 7:04 am January 24, 2011 #

  6. Yes, this guy was soliciting on 25th Ave. yesterday afternoon. He was a fast talker and definitely did NOT seem legit. Is it too late to report to police?

    Comment by sks — 8:11 am January 24, 2011 #

  7. i will keep good watch for these two thieves becaue if i see them again i will call the police and have them arrested for trying to rob you. these people were trying to scope out your house and it was a good thing you did what you did. I know how you feel i had something like this happene otm e before. and there will be police if this person comes onto my property so don’t worry you are in the same boat.I live on near the Delridge area but not telling where at exactly just to keep myself and my family safe.

    Comment by Anyonymous — 8:35 am January 24, 2011 #

  8. I live in Westwood and this guy came to my house at 6pm last Friday. I opened the door because I thought it was friends arriving early and ended up listening to his spiel. He kept telling me that my neighbors gave him dinner and a bunch of money (and held out a wad of bills). When I told him I wasn’t giving today he was really pissed and left. Honestly, it left me a little unnerved.

    Comment by desertdweller — 9:05 am January 24, 2011 #

  9. And I should say, I live in Westwood!

    Comment by desertdweller — 9:05 am January 24, 2011 #

  10. In Cottage Grove on Sunday a guy knocked on our door and used the same technique he used on desertdweller to try to get me to give him cash: “Your neighbors were very generous!” Then he lied about how much my neighbors gave him.

    His fast-talking story about teens and drugs and garbage pick up sounded very sketchy. He said they needed money for garbage bags (but he could easily get those for free from the city for a program like this, if it was real).

    When I said I like to check things out before donating he grabbed the flyer from me and took off quickly–totally changing his tone. He had no badge, no credentials, nothing. Not legit.

    We are considering posting a no soliciting sign. I used to think it wasn’t friendly but now I think it’s a good idea. I get knockers every month with anything from “donate” to “buy our security system.” Rarely does anyone have a badge.

    DO CALL THE POLICE. Even if the person is legit, the police can check it out and then we’ll know. Don’t second guess yourself. It gives police a chance to interact with someone, get to know them, possibly send them away if they are up to something. Often police already are familiar with these characters and calling them will help move them out of your neighborhood.

    I noticed no one described the solicitor. I know we don’t want to be racial profiling around here, but a description is a description: The guy who I saw was approx. 6ft. tall, African Amer, dark blue knit cap, newish white sneakers, dark pants and jacket. No glasses, no facial hair.

    Comment by KayKay — 11:16 am January 24, 2011 #

  11. Last year I taped “NO SOLICITORS. NO EXCEPTIONS” by my front door. It’s really helped keep almost all these people away. Not everyone respects the sign but most do. You don’t need to buy a sign. Just print it on regular paper and post it by your door/doorbell with tape.

    Incidentally, I don’t consider it unfriendly at all. This is my home and I want to do all I can to try to make sure we are safe.

    Comment by WS Suzanne — 11:56 am January 24, 2011 #

  12. Just curious…do people answer their door to everybody that knocks? I mean, if you look through the peep-hole of your door and the person isn’t familiar to you, then why answer the door at all?
    .
    I always wonder why people feel obliged to open their door when someone knocks/rings.

    Comment by alki_2008 — 1:01 pm January 24, 2011 #

  13. @Alki_2008: I was expecting friends for dinner and answered the door thinking it was them!

    Comment by desertdweller — 2:35 pm January 24, 2011 #

  14. It was totally right to assume this is not legit. I believe we all should follow SPD blockwatch volunteers’ advice and put up “No Solicitors” signs. They can be made decorative and elegant. One should not hesitate because of aesthetics.

    Comment by Chuxk Bowden — 4:21 pm January 24, 2011 #

  15. @alki_2008 – Not everyone has a basic front door with a peephole. I have to open my front door and step into the entry to see who is at the storm door, which is to my right rather than immediately in front of me. Once I do that, it’s pretty hard to not at least greet the person standing there.

    Comment by hopey — 5:21 pm January 24, 2011 #

  16. This guy is NOT legit. He is casing your house to see 1)what valuables are visible and 2) what kind of people live at the house. Please call the police next time. Even though it’s not an outright crime, the police can hopefully identify this guy and warn him to stay away from your neighborhood.

    Comment by Sloan — 12:44 pm January 25, 2011 #

  17. I posted a “No Solicitors” sign on the fence/gate to my townhouse and someone removed it. I also have a sign on my front door that cannot be removed. That sign along with my ADT signs have dramatically cut down on all the traffic that was coming to my door about a year ago. Except for religious groups for some reason…

    Comment by Greenie — 1:31 pm January 25, 2011 #

  18. I’m the “Concerned Neighbor” that emailed this report. I’m glad that you guys have written in on this, because of the facts you are listing. @KayKay–it’s true that a description is a description, thank you for putting it that way. Everyone’s descriptions have matched my non-legit solicitor. Same blue knit cap, same build, same fast talking spiel, same attitude.
    @Alki_2008–I agree with you completely about not answering the door. I never answer the door when someone knocks, unless I’m expecting someone of course. I can’t stand when people drop by. Even my friends know to call first, and especially do not answer when I’m alone at home with out the hubby there. I’m still asking myself “Why?”, and can only come up with the fact that I was caught off guard. I too, do not have a door with a peep hole, and can only look out the window to see who it is, in hopes that they won’t catch me.
    It’s amazing to me, that after going thru the entire page of “Door-to-Door Alerts” here, that 3+ are the very same guy, I’m almost positive, since back in early of last year!
    It’s left me unnerved to say the very least.
    Everyone look out for this guy!
    Thanks for all the comments!

    Comment by ddb — 2:28 am January 27, 2011 #

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