West Seattle Crime Watch: About the Admiral arrest…

April 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm | In Crime, Door-to-door alert, West Seattle news | 56 Comments

For the past few hours, we’ve been working to get details about an Admiral-area arrest that several people tipped us to/asked about, and finally have just spoken with police. They arrested a man who allegedly was working a residential neighborhood, going door to door claiming to be selling magazines, possibly as a sports-team fundraiser. Finally, at one house, police say, a woman was asleep on the couch when repeated doorbell-ringing woke her up. She answered the door, and the man tried to claim he was a neighbor, started talking about baseball, and as she tried to close the door, he put his foot in the door to try to stop her. She pushed back and he left; police found him at 45th and Admiral. Since he didn’t actually break into the house, they ultimately could only book him into jail for investigation of criminal trespassing, but the sergeant with whom we spoke says the suspect did not have anything in his possession indicating he was a legitimate door-to-door solicitor.

56 Comments

  1. Many years ago I worked at a Airport Hotel (housekeeper) and there was a large group of young adults staying in the hotel and they were in the area just to sell magazine and or cleaning products for their “boss” they would say they were from a local school district trying to raise money for a fund raiser for their school, don’t believe them they are over worked kids just making money for “their boss”! They only made minimum wages for their very long hours of work, dropped off in a neighborhood at 5am and not picked up until it was 9 to 10pm.

    Comment by mehatemejob — 6:21 pm April 5, 2013 #

  2. I just read enough evidence to hang him.

    Comment by timh2o — 6:25 pm April 5, 2013 #

  3. If it’s evidence that would stand up in court, you’d want to make sure SPD had it, as they amass a case to send to the prosecutor.

    Comment by WSB — 6:27 pm April 5, 2013 #

  4. We did stories on those in my TV days and I imagine they’re still out there. Might even be in our “door-to-door alert” archive:
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/category/door-to-door-alert
    .
    The sergeant noted that while this person was saying something about “helping teenagers,” he was “no teenager.” I don’t have an age, though.

    Comment by WSB — 6:30 pm April 5, 2013 #

  5. Just because someone knocks doesn’t mean you have to open the door to them.

    Comment by sc — 6:46 pm April 5, 2013 #

  6. creepy…..good call on calling police.

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 6:48 pm April 5, 2013 #

  7. I’m pretty sure he knocked on my door yesterday, ignoring my “No Soliciting” sign.

    Comment by Elizabeth — 7:44 pm April 5, 2013 #

  8. A “no solicitors” sign works most of the time or talking through the door to determine what/who.

    Comment by Faith4 — 8:03 pm April 5, 2013 #

  9. “legitimate door-to-door solicitor”
    .
    Any ‘legitimate’ sales person has NO business or right to put their foot in the door without permission granted from the occupant. Period.

    Comment by Ken — 8:12 pm April 5, 2013 #

  10. I’m almost certain he’s the one who came to my door last week!

    Comment by sunshine — 8:21 pm April 5, 2013 #

  11. I had a young girl come to the door around 5:30 PM tonight with the story that she was raising money to send her to some final game in Walla Walla. I told her no thanks and sent her on her way. Had that uneasy feeling she was casing out our house. We live near Mars Hill, they were really covering some area!

    Comment by Alexandra — 8:21 pm April 5, 2013 #

  12. Some guy saying he was raising money for his school to go to England helping injured vets by donnating money for items like books. Stated he was a neighbor behind me I might know his mother who walks her boxer..? No, I said and asked for more clarity about this fund raiser he showed me very tattered folded up paper showing items and it was all very confusing, Told him I want to think about what this was and he said ok maybe I’ll come back Sunday. Name of fund was Back a Winner. Didn’t seem legit..wonder if this was this guy? time was 6ish

    Comment by Robin — 8:27 pm April 5, 2013 #

  13. 2 young men who said they were from “The Church of Jesus Christ” were going door to door in the Admiral area a few weeks ago handing out flyers about a sermon the Church was having around Easter.

    Comment by Noelle — 8:52 pm April 5, 2013 #

  14. Sounds like a very flaky and dangerous individual. How sad!

    Comment by Rvesdocs — 8:52 pm April 5, 2013 #

  15. Is there a description? I wonder if it’s some of the people living under the Admiral Way/Fairmont bridge? Their pitbull lunged at me the other day. 20 somethings. I see them accessing from the east corner near 39th. Some bikes stuffed down there too. I’m sure they’re regular, law abiding, homeless, but one never knows I guess. Nothing against homeless, but pitbulls yes.
    Hopefully they’ve moved on.

    Comment by Marie — 9:04 pm April 5, 2013 #

  16. Robin – Researching quickly online, “Back A Winner” is an actual company, for profit, that seems to be the roving-group-of-salespeople type of company – based in Colorado; you can follow links here:
    .
    http://www.bbb.org/denver/business-reviews/magazine-sales/back-a-winner-in-kittredge-co-90144540
    .
    to read about some past complaints. While the complaints are “closed” and the company’s responses are listed, it appears that their salespeople are quoted as claiming everything from military benefits to school contests, and the company says they’re sorry the salespeople are “confused.”
    .
    While it doesn’t sound like the subject of this story is related – so far as we know – it may be time for us to ratchet up the door-to-door education again. Some of the complaints have interesting details such as, the company says you will start getting your magazines … within 120 days. Four months! – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:05 pm April 5, 2013 #

  17. “Back A Winner” is also listed at scambook.com
    .
    http://www.scambook.com/company/view/79603/Back-A-Winner-Magazine-Sales
    .
    Several complaints listed there. One woman claims she wrote them a check for $48 and they managed to cash it for $60.

    Comment by Ken — 9:18 pm April 5, 2013 #

  18. It was a freaky situation. I’m glad I made the decision to call the police!

    He was red-headed …very distinct feature!

    Comment by New2WS — 9:21 pm April 5, 2013 #

  19. Weird night just came home zooming around the corner on Erskine and two teenagers in the middle of the street we almost hit them, the guy put his hand up for us to stop, and my husband cracked his window the girl was crying said they were lost could they borrow our phone! NO then they said we are trying to find the Alaska junction we are lost and drunk! So we pointed and drove off! It isn’t even a full moon tonight is it?

    Comment by Silly Goose — 9:28 pm April 5, 2013 #

  20. There was only one person booked into KCJ this p.m. for criminal trespass, which is a misdemeanor, so handled through Seattle Municipal Court, where that person, a 20-year-old man who does not seem to have a record in this state, is scheduled for arraignment tomorrow afternoon, bail set at $1,000. There is NO way to know for *sure* if this is the same person as there are no identifying factors on what few records are online, nothing like “arrested in a certain part of the area” nor any details of the offense for which that person is being held. I’ll have to wait until Monday to contact the City Attorney’s Office to ask them to look it up. But I’ll check tomorrow for the disposition of the case in question – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:35 pm April 5, 2013 #

  21. “Since he didn’t actually break into the house” … tried to force his way in, and they can’t charge him with anything, just hold him for investigation? Yerch.

    Comment by LivesInWS — 9:48 pm April 5, 2013 #

  22. This guy was also a red head very slender 5’8″
    Also looked older than high school he said he was in

    Comment by Robin — 10:01 pm April 5, 2013 #

  23. Robin– he was between 5’6″ and 5’8″ with a very slender build which I thought was odd considering he told me he was a baseball player. He looked very scrawny not athletic at all.

    Comment by New2WS — 10:20 pm April 5, 2013 #

  24. This has nothing to do with door to door but I wanted to let everyone know there is a scam going on in the Westwood neighborhood. I was at target today and a man and woman were going car to car asking for money because their car wouldn’t start and they needed to pay for a tow. 2 hours later I was at Safeway and the same couple were going car to car with the same story.

    Comment by Lil Wash — 10:33 pm April 5, 2013 #

  25. This is the one thing from being married to a police officer I am reminded of constantly after 15 years of living in Capitol Hill and later West Seattle (and having issues in both areas like this)
    - Never, never, never open the door no matter what.

    Women especially override our sixth sense because we think it’s not nice or rude to ignore the door. When we first moved to West Seattle a man knocked and asked to use the phone because his truck broke down. I stupidly let him-thinking not letting him in and giving him the phone on the porch somehow kept me safe.

    Luckily nothing happened but I look back now and wonder what I was thinking? Not to blame her, but this woman is very lucky – what if it was the jogger attacker from the other morning? So glad she’s ok.

    Comment by Goodjob — 12:16 am April 6, 2013 #

  26. Ken wrote: Several complaints listed there. One woman claims she wrote them a check for $48 and they managed to cash it for $60.

    Eric: I think these days, as a rule of thumb, it is best not to write a check or give one’s credit card information out to “supposed” charities or fundraisers. I say supposed, because these days, we just never know with all the scams out there.
    Personally, any charity I deal with is not from a door to door solicitation and I put a sign saying no solicitors, so anyone that comes to my door (so far no one since putting up the sign) claiming a fundraiser or charity are already putting up red flags.
    I put this sign up after some guy came up to my door with what looked like a half bottle of windex, claiming that he was from a Burien Carpet Cleaning business, persisted that I let him in and he would do a free sample cleaning in any room. It seemed to me that it was a casing scam. A way to easily get into someone’s home and take a look see to see if there was anything worth taking. He left, and I continued to watch him, I think making him uncomfortable, and saw a car pick him up and leave.
    While some years back, there was more trust, these days writing a check is essentially giving criminals access to one’s bank account with the account and routing numbers. Same with credit card info.

    Comment by Eric — 5:30 am April 6, 2013 #

  27. When you put your foot in my door to prevent me from closing it I will consider that foot to be mine and I’m keeping it. The rest can leave.

    Comment by Rick — 5:36 am April 6, 2013 #

  28. Lil Wash, I live near Westwood Village, so I am there often. I don’t know how many different stories I hear from people with claims such as the one you described. I’m pretty much jaded to the hard luck stories I hear. Can you give a description of what these two looked like?

    Comment by Eric — 5:41 am April 6, 2013 #

  29. New2WS,

    I think this guy stopped at my house as well. His story sounded completely implausible and was claiming to have been selling for wounded warrior project to send wounded soldiers books and magazines.

    He also claimed to be the son of someone in the neighborhood.

    He didn’t try anything as stupid as putting his foot in the door, but was very sketchy.

    Comment by Civik — 7:03 am April 6, 2013 #

  30. I was in parking lot of Fred Meyer recently when a guy came up to me wanting money to get to Harborview because “he had had a heart attack.” I told him no and called into Fred Meyer to let them know what was going on so they could take care of it. The man did not show any physical stress from a heart attack & felt it was a scam. He continued around the parking lot approaching customers. I have been told that it is a good idea to let the store know something is going on in the parking lot so the store security can take care of it.

    And, yes, NEVER open the door to any strangers & teach your children to do the same. Police say if you see anything strange, feel free to call them with a description of the person & clothing so they can check them out. If you are away from the house, good to leave TV/radio on in the background so there is some noise in the house. The police give our neighborhood watch informational letters from time to time that are distributed to us with information on what has been going on and what to watch for and how to handle it.

    Comment by Faith4 — 7:24 am April 6, 2013 #

  31. I never, ever open the door. If possible, I crack the window and ask the knocker what they want. If they give me attitude about not opening the door, I inform them I’m calling police. That usually gets rid of them. This is seldom a problem, as I usually lock my gate from the inside. I can’t think of a single, legitimate reason for door-to-door…anything.

    Comment by anonyme — 7:38 am April 6, 2013 #

  32. May I tag in? You are all correct in the belief to not open the door for people you do not know and to teach your family members the same, but please do not ignore the knocker. Our home was burglarized in 2009 while our 16 year old daughter was home. As we later found out from the police, the manner in which the thieves gained entry into our home is common. It was mid-morning in a working-class neighborhood and most of us were at…work. Our daughter heard a knock, looked out a window, didn’t recognize the men at the door, and ignored it. They knocked once or twice more, then entered the house through a window. She was able to grab her phone and run out to the backyard where she then called 911. They ransacked our house and left before the police arrived. She hid amongst bushes in the yard, could see them through the windows. So, I have made it my mission since then to advise anyone I know to NOT ignore the knocker. Make sure they know someone is home. If it’s a child, they can holler, “Hey, someone get the door!” As an adult, I speak through a locked door.

    Comment by Breezy — 8:02 am April 6, 2013 #

  33. There’s plenty on line about these companies. The most informative and sobering is this investigation by the New York TImes:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/21/us/21magcrew.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Others, among many, many others with useful tidbits, such as DBAs (“doing business as” names of companies), are these:

    http://www.travelingsalescrews.info/slaves%20to%20the%20sale.html

    http://edumacation.com/PacificCoastClearingServices

    http://www.travelingsalescrews.info/door%20to%20door%20sales%20profiles.html

    Comment by KatieH — 8:10 am April 6, 2013 #

  34. Breezy: That is why we acknowledge them through the door, or we have background noise that sounds like talking with TV/radio if we are gone. It is always good for a child to holler for an adult, or an adult by themselves hollering for someone to answer the door. We have also come into the habit of waving when we leave as if someone was still there + being aware if there is someone sitting in a car which we have had & when they were aware we knew, they immediately left. It was not a car we normally saw in this area.

    Comment by Faith4 — 9:04 am April 6, 2013 #

  35. don’t open your door for anyone…..even the females. the trick is the female knocks on the door and the males are around the corner and rush you when the door is opened.

    within minutes your are tied up and pistol whipped, if not dead.

    it’s too bad this guy was not knocking on doors in Maple Valley.

    Comment by joel — 9:06 am April 6, 2013 #

  36. Of all the comments here the one that stands out the most to me was from “Marie” who stated, “Nothing against homeless, but pitbulls yes.”…that’s too bad you feel this way (not about the homeless, but pitbulls). Dogs are only a reflection of their human owners – if they’re mistreated and NOT taught to be “good dogs” they’re not going to be…it has NOTHING to do with being a pitbull. In fact, the number one breed guilty of biting humans is Labradors. I adore labs, more than you could ever know. But I could also teach a pitbull to be as gentle and fun as a lab, retriever, chihuahua…you name it. Any dog left to it’s own instincts will be protective of itself, its owner and it’s territory. I don’t believe that dogs in the hands of the homeless are getting the chance they need to be as good a dog as they can be. Just as the homeless have to struggle for food and shelter (in other words are desperate), so does the dog, no matter what the breed, and this makes him/her that much more desperate.

    Comment by onceachef — 9:14 am April 6, 2013 #

  37. We really need to make door-to-door soliciting illegal. The days of the Fuller Brush Man left with Ozzie and Harriet. This change is WAY past due…

    Comment by marty — 9:22 am April 6, 2013 #

  38. I had a man with a young child ask me for money at QFC Westwood Village parking lot … I didn’t give him any. This has happened to me in several store parking lots over the years! It is kind of scary.

    Comment by hmmm... — 10:09 am April 6, 2013 #

  39. Look, people, we can’t lose our humanity or automatically assume the worst when confronted with strangers. Especially in a down economy, there will be legitimate people going door to door or in need of assistance. Haven’t any of you ever been in a situation where a kind stranger saved the day for you? I know I have, many times. Of course we need to be wary of aggressive people whose stories don’t add up, using our common sense and reporting to police if necessary, but please don’t assume anyone asking you anything in public is automatically up to no good.

    Comment by furor scribendi — 11:02 am April 6, 2013 #

  40. Civik– He didn’t even tell me he was selling anything–just that he plays baseball and was our neighbor. I will never open the door again to someone I don’t recognize. I dont even open the door when a delivery man/woman comes up. The windows don’t open near the front door and I thought he might need help like some stories I have heard. Now I have leaned and will never ever open the door.

    Comment by New2WS — 11:12 am April 6, 2013 #

  41. I had someone knock on the door a few weeks ago, and I bought a box of girl scout cookies from the girl and Mom I didn’t know. Really, it’s about awareness (I looked out the door before opening) and not always being scared behind a door-it did startle me at first. I understand why people won’t answer the door, or won’t open it. Another time it was the police looking for the previous owner, I looked out the window and answered the door of course.

    Comment by Eaglelover — 11:28 am April 6, 2013 #

  42. I’m so sorry to hear of this scam/story, but don’t let it make you lose your sense of humanity, please. I first visited West Seattle 4 years ago, staying with a cousin who is an EMT. Although I had a spare key, I accidentally locked myself out of the house (key inside). Of course my cell phone was also in the house. I knew my cousin wouldn’t be off her shift until 5am, and this was at 7:30pm. I went door-to-door until I found someone who not only let me in but also let me use the phone, track down my cousin, and have the cousin send someone who was leaving work to deliver the key to me, which took all-told 2.5 hours. The woman who let me in was in her 50s, a widow, and lived alone. Yet she was kind, she believed me, and she was lonely. I repaid her kindness the next day with a new pot of flowers and some home-baked bread. I liked the neighbor so much I bought my own house in the same neighborhood 2 years later.

    Comment by highland park resident — 1:56 pm April 6, 2013 #

  43. “Look, people, we can’t lose our humanity or automatically assume the worst when confronted with strangers. Especially in a down economy, there will be legitimate people going door to door or in need of assistance.”

    No, there won’t be. It’s been generations since you could assume that. Back in the Depression people might knock on your door and offer to do some chores in exchange for a meal or a place to sleep for the night but that hasn’t been common since my Grandfather’s day. When is the last time someone knocked on your door for a handout and offered to actually do anything in return for it?

    The odds of someone hitting you up on the street for money being legit strikes me as better than a hundred to one against, especially in Seattle where it has become a fine art and you can see the same person working the same corner for years at a time, complete with lawn chair, boom box, ice chest with a few cold ones at hand, professionally printed signage and a steady supply of “smokes” (I *never* give money to someone begging who is also obviously a smoker, they made their choice when they purchased cigarettes instead of food or clothing or what have you).

    I’ll give to good charities that do real help and I have given food to people on the street on occasion when the need appeared genuine (really hungry people look it) and I’ll drop occasional spare change into someone’s cup on the street but no way, no how for someone at my door, for whatever “cause”.

    Comment by JimP — 2:38 pm April 6, 2013 #

  44. I believe same or similar guy was on Beach Drive last weekend. He had a hat on so not sure if he had red hair. Claiming to be a soccer player, raising money for a trip, and selling magazines for it. Yet instead of magazines coming to homes, they’d be sent to veteran facilities. His cologne seemed to be masking alcohol, maybe, and he did not have, IMHO, a soccer player physique. He had a nervous laugh and kept mentioning, “that’s what my grandpa told me to say” as if that would charm me…? He seemed mid to late twenties. My instinct was that he was not truthful. He did not produce any credible info on his “team”, not that I asked as my radar was already warning me to turn him away. Approached me on walk on neighborhood street but was going door to door, too.

    Comment by beachdrivemom — 3:32 pm April 6, 2013 #

  45. This guy knocked on my door, said he was a neighbor trying to sell magazines, if you didn’t want one could purchase one for one of the charitable groups he said he was with… I will answer my door. Don’t know when it’s a neighbor in need or just a scam. However not without my side arm, day or night. Might sound paranoid to some but nor am I afraid to open my door.

    Comment by Ace20604 — 3:38 pm April 6, 2013 #

  46. It seems fine to assess through the door who you are dealing with before opening it, but *never* opening the door?
    .
    Over the years I have had to
    -knock on a door when i was really lost in a neihgborhood (pre-GPS!)
    -knock on the door to say hi, I am your new neighbor
    -knock on a door to say, fyi, i am your neighbor and was burglerized yesterday

    And have opened the door to people looking for just-run away pets, kids who really were (little) kids selling candy (usually with a parent on the sidewalk somewhere), and of course, political canavasers.

    So yeah, there are reasons to answer and open the door.

    Comment by MellyMel — 5:00 pm April 6, 2013 #

  47. If I don’t know the person knocking on my door, I still open it.

    My 45 is in plain view though… In my right hand.

    Comment by Velo_nut — 5:38 pm April 6, 2013 #

  48. The door-to-door magazine sellers are in pretty much every city – I’ve been hit by them everywhere I’ve lived since ~2000. They are slightly less persistent than Jehova’s Witnesses, who also seem to be in every neighborhood.

    I find both groups less of a nuisance than the ambush tables selling cookies and candy outside the grocery store. At least the door-to-door people don’t send their mothers to knock on the door while they petulantly sit on the sidewalk and text.

    Comment by Ajax — 6:24 pm April 6, 2013 #

  49. The person I mentioned in an earlier comment, booked into jail Friday evening, is indeed the suspect, and following a jailhouse appearance today, he is out of jail. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 6:59 pm April 6, 2013 #

  50. FYI… A slender guy came to our house saying he was from Back a Winner and even though we felt weird about it, we gave him a $71 check. Now today, our card has an $803 charge on it supposedly from a Wells Fargo ATM in Walnut Creek, CA which doesn’t make sense because you can’t withdrawal that amount from an ATM. The bank closed our card supposedly but we didn’t get a call from them. These two things may not be related but its too odd not to warn others to check your accounts if you gave him money. And no need for comments about how giving him money was stupid – we got it.

    Comment by Chelsey — 7:07 pm April 6, 2013 #

  51. Really Ajax? You find someone coming to your home while you maybe eating dinner or spending time with your family, so they can push their religion on you or possibly scam you with some kind of false charity, less of a nuisance than a young girl selling cookies for Girl Scouts or another similar organization to raise money for things like summer camp? When I think of ambush, I think of someone coming to my home to solicit, not walking by a table where I can say “No thank you” and be on my way.

    Comment by Eric — 4:49 am April 7, 2013 #

  52. I don’t believe I have read anything recently about people getting tied up and pistol whipped or killed. I think it’s pretty simple: go to the door, don’t open it, tell them “no” before they even start their story. If they don’t leave, call the police.
    .
    I don’t think you are stupid, Chelsey. Just too nice. :-)

    Comment by NotMe — 1:35 pm April 7, 2013 #

  53. “Nothing against the homeless, but pitbulls, yes.” Statements like this drive me crazy! I have 2 dogs. A pitbull and a black lab. The pitbull is the sweetest of a long line of dogs that I have owned. It’s the black lab that’s crazy. I have to keep her right at my side anytime we are public. I can practically ignore the pitbull, while he makes friends with the whole neighborhood! A comment like that, is nothing more than ‘dog racism’ in my book.

    Comment by west seattlite — 2:45 pm April 7, 2013 #

  54. There are some scary people out there, on both sides of the door.

    Comment by anti-obstruction — 5:15 pm April 7, 2013 #

  55. Yes, some scary people on both sides of the door! JimP, you probably weren’t around during the Depression. There are plenty of legitimate people going door-to-door or who are in legitimate need; they don’t get the press the bad ones get, but they exist. Per capita, we live in a much safer environment than in the 1930′s. We can now call 911 and have near-instant emergency services, all sorts of electronic security, etc. We should judge each situation as it presents, training our children to be cautious but not callous, and avoid hiding behind our doors and assuming the ill intent of others.

    Comment by Furor Scribendi — 11:33 am April 8, 2013 #

  56. I spent two summers seeing educational books door-to-door with a very legitinate company. All the student salespeople went through a week-long training, that focused not only on the product, but also how to not be threatening/creepy. As a big, tan, guy, that’s sometimes quite a challenge. They are still doing it, and you’ll likely see them this summer. They will be clean cut, carrying bags and clip boards that say, SW Company. Please be kind, they work about 80 hours a week.

    Comment by dave — 5:48 pm April 8, 2013 #

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