West Seattle, Washington
The holiday season seems to have brought an uptick in door-to-door soliciting in West Seattle – we’ve received several messages with concerns/questions in the past few days, like this one from Mark in Gatewood:
We had three separate attempts for solicitation over a two-hour period starting just after dark. We did not answer, but could see it was two men. Loud, insistent knocking.
We later called a neighbor who answered and were told they said they were from CenturyLink.
I know there have been other reports in the past about them, just wanted to give a heads up in case others were concerned or worried.
Very disconcerting. Amazing to think that any reputable company would send its employees out like that, after dark on a Friday night.
That’s the most common report we’ve been getting, but others have mentioned people trying to sell magazines. We have no way of telling you whether the person at your door is or is not legit, but here are some of the major rules about door-to-door selling in Seattle, which we recap every few months when the inquiries start peaking again:
*Door-to-door (residential) selling is allowed between 8 am-9 pm.
*The entity for whom the seller is working has to have a license, and the seller (agent) must have ID showing the license and the agent’s name: “All licensees and agents shall conspicuously display on their outer clothing their residential sales license or residential sales agent licenses when selling.” If you choose to open the door, ask to see it immediately: “Each residential seller or agent shall, immediately upon contacting the prospective buyer, disclose to the prospective buyer his/her name, company, and the product or service represented.”
*Solicitors are required to honor a “no soliciting” sign if you have one. Whether you do or don’t, they’re also required to honor this part of the code: “If requested to do so, (the agent) shall leave the premises immediately.”
Read the full set of rules by going here.. And note the city says they don’t apply to sellers of “newspapers, or fresh or perishable food items”; nor is a license required for a person who turns up at your door seeking charity donations.
If you do buy something from a solicitor, you have cancellation rights.
For the first time in a while, we’ve received a flurry of e-mails in the past few days with reports of/concerns about door-to-door sellers. You might not be aware of city law, so here’s a recap:
*Hours for door-to-door (residential) selling are limited to 8 am-9 pm.
*The seller’s employer has to be licensed and the seller (agent) has to have ID that shows the license and the agent’s name. Regarding the ID, “All licensees and agents shall conspicuously display on their outer clothing their residential sales license or residential sales agent licenses when selling.” Ask to see it before you even listen to a pitch. And beyond the ID: “Each residential seller or agent shall, immediately upon contacting the prospective buyer, disclose to the prospective buyer his/her name, company, and the product or service represented.”
*If you have a “no soliciting” sign by your door, it’s illegal for sellers to ignore it. If you don’t, you still have no obligation to listen to a pitch – city law includes the stipulation that “If requested to do so, (the agent) shall leave the premises immediately.”
A big exception – if someone is just asking you to donate to a charity (not describing a “sale” of something as a “donation”), they don’t have to be licensed. Also: The types of selling that don’t require licenses under Seattle law are “newspapers, or fresh or perishable food items.”
P.S. If you do buy something door-to-door – be aware of cancellation rights.
Five West Seattle Crime Watch reports:
TONIGHT – RING GONE AFTER SOLICITOR LEAVES: Danielle believes her engagement ring, left on the shelf in her bathroom, was stolen by a solicitor a little over an hour ago in the Fairmount neighborhood, near 38th and Raymond. “Around 7 pm a young black male wearing a bow tie and feminine backpack came to the door to sell magazines. My fiancé naïvely let him in to use the bathroom while he wrote a $25 check. I now realize my engagement ring that I had taken off to garden and left on the bathroom shelf is missing. Please keep an eye out for this person and do not give him any money. Please call the police immediately.” We asked for further descriptive information before publishing this and she replied:
Height: probably 5’10”
Clothes: button-up shirt (white) with a bow tie with a sweatshirt on top. He was wearing a backpack that reminded me of one I’d seen at Forever 21 in the women’s section (might have been floral). May have been wearing a hat but we can’t remember so we can’t really remember what his hair looks like. Definitely black hair though.
Side note – we’ve had a few questions about door-to-door sellers in general recently. The second half of this SPD Crime Prevention newsletter from 2013 recaps the rules, as well as police’s advice.
WHEEL STOLEN: From Michael in Seaview:
We live at 46th Ave SW and Findlay. Thieves stole one wheel this morning off our car, and almost had a second (picture attached).
Removed the lug nuts from both and from all appearances the front one fell back to rest on the loose wheel since the jack was not set up well. From talking with the neighbors across the street it sounds like it happened around 10:30 this morning. Usually we have a fair amount of traffic and it sounds like people might have mistaken it for us working on the car.
HIT AND RUN: From Brad:
This morning at 1:10 am, my Jeep was hit and run by a yellow / light color medium sized pickup. This pickup truck was drifting up the corner of Spokane Street and then the corner of 58th and Hillcrest when the impact occurred. They fled the scene up Hillcrest, which turns into Charlestown.
This yellowish pickup will have front damage and a headlight out. In the broken glass debris is a ‘Made in the USA’ stamp. So, either the vehicle was made in the USA, or the headlight was. If anyone sees this damaged vehicle, please notify police (and refer to) incident # 16-216446.
3 CAR PROWLS, 2 REPORTS: Meghan reports two on Thursday in the 2100 block of Fairmount Avenue: “Luckily, there was nothing of great value in either vehicle; however, they did rifle through personal items (mail, address books, etc).” And Kristiana reported on Friday: “Reporting our second car break in 6 months. Nothing valuable to take in our car but they tossed the contents all over our seats and made off with a phone cord. Sigh. … We’re at Spokane and 48th. Car was parked on street in front of house.”
REMINDER: If you have neighborhood crime concerns to bring to police, next Tuesday (June 21st) is the monthly West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting at the Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster), with guest SPD Chief Operating Officer Brian Maxey, focusing on questions and concerns about the 911 system.
Two reader reports this morning, both from neighbors wondering if anyone else had similar incidents/sightings:
SUSPICIOUS ‘SOLICITOR’: From Tina this morning:
I woke up to someone walking through my yard to my back door and knocking ever so lightly. When I came to the door and asked what he wanted (through the door) he looked around and asked if I needed any additional fencing or landscaping. He said he lived on my street (37th, near Fauntleroy) and was a “good handyman”. Unless he is new, I don’t recognize this man. He said he would leave his card – he didn’t leave anything. He was a white male, short light brown hair, around 5’10” who arrived on a bike (left at the front steps), visible tattoos on front of his neck – just above his shirt collar. He clearly saw the car in the drive and still knocked. Please be vigilant if you see anyone in your neighbor’s yard. Also, has anyone else seen or heard from this person?
ATTEMPTED BREAK-IN: From Cait:
Sunday morning around 4:45 am we had someone attempt to kick in our garage door in North Shorewood (104th between 25th and 26th)– five heavy kicks to the door and pry marks on the door jam. VERY loud. My husband got up to see the person pass in front of our window and into our side yard but was not able to see him clearly. The person stayed out of our line of sight for a while, either talking to himself or on the phone in our side yard, again talking loudly. He was saying “I’m sorry” and “I don’t know where I am”. We were able to see him pass in front of our window again – but only saw him from the back, about 5’8”, medium build, jeans and a black sweatshirt. No other description available. Police were not able to find anyone in the area upon search. He did not attempt to break into our cars parked in front of the house. We think this may be someone casing properties – we have two large dogs, the largest of which is out of the house at the moment. But our other dog barking did not deter him. Wondering if anyone else in the area might have heard this incident as well.
P.S. The next crime/safety meeting will be this month’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council gathering, one week from tonight – Tuesday, February 16th, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct (2300 SW Webster).
Three reader reports to share tonight:
HIT & RUN: Tim says this was one lousy parting gift to get while preparing to move – damage done by a hit-and-run driver near 42nd and Manning (map). It’s been reported to police. Tim says a neighbor believes the car was a Subaru Forester – checking to see if they also mentioned its color.
PLANT THEFTS: The latest case of illegal grab-and-go from a garden:
1:30 am this morning, 2 white women were stealing plants from my driveway where I have
plant sales, when my neighbor came home. They already had the 2-3 Japanese Maples in their car (2 Ukigumo, 1 red Pygmy). They had taken two hostas in 3 gallon containers and placed at the front of the driveway – then they were discovered by my neighbor. They promptly left in their Toyota Sienna, around year 2000, color light gold/silver, partial license (starting with) 522 … My Neighbor was chasing after them on foot. This is a dead end block – one way in and out. 7300 block 19th Avenue SW.
DOOR-TO-DOOR CONCERN: Our final reader report:
I live in the 8500 block of 14th Ave. SW in Highland Park. A little before 4:00 p.m. two young men knocked on my door. The windows were open and the TV was on, but it took me a few seconds from the time I first heard knocking to get to the window and stick my head outside to see who was at the door. In the meantime, it sounded like someone wriggled the door handle and tried to get in. When I stuck my head out the window, they said they were from Century Link and they wanted to talk to neighbors about construction that is going on. We are having wires enhanced in the area. I said I wasn’t interested.
I called Century Link and it was confirmed that none of their representatives are going to houses in the area. They only send out technicians. The young men looked to be in their early 20’s. One was brunet Caucasian with slender build and the other was tall, stocky African American. They wore white shirts and black pants and carried clipboards.
There’s always the chance the person the reader spoke with at CL didn’t have good local info – so if you happen to know these visitors were legit, please advise, does happen sometimes.
With warmer weather and later light, solicitor reports are picking up – including these two reports from Arbor Heights today, which are followed by information on city rules and what you can do if someone you don’t know comes to your door, soliciting or not:
Three reader reports of note:
Another broken business window on California SW. Unlike the one at the Discovery Shop earlier this week, the circumstances here aren’t clear, but we’re sharing it as an FYI. It happened at White Crane Wellness (3435 California SW) sometime Saturday, according to massage therapist MJ, who reports “stopp(ing) by to pick up something from work at 5:45 pm (Saturday) and saw that our window had been broken. It is double paned. Luckily only the outer pane was broken but there was still broken glass at the scene. Management has been contacted. Don’t know if it is related to the Discovery Store vandalism or a separate incidence.”
Ahead – trespasser or prowler? and a door-to-door report:
After receiving two inquiries this hour regarding someone going door-to-door in Arbor Heights asking if people are interested in selling their homes, we’re wondering if this is happening on a more widespread basis, and if you have any firsthand experience with it. Both people who mentioned it say the man didn’t offer a card – one family said “no” and he left, the other pointed out houses for sale nearby, and they were given a handwritten note with a phone number. If you work in real estate or development, is this a legit, common tactic? We have heard realtors say they need more houses to sell, but not necessarily that they’re going door-to-door looking for them.
There’s been a resurgence of complaints/concerns about door-to-door solicitors in West Seattle lately. Some people have posted notes in the WSB Forums, but with more mentions showing up in all of our message boxes, from e-mail to Facebook to text, it seems like a good time to at least talk about the rules.
Most of the complaints we have heard have NOT been simply for the solicitation itself – but mostly because they were aggressive and/or rude. For example, we received this one today from Fauntleroy:
Just had an aggressive door to door magazine salesman in the last 30 minutes or so. Name Mike and claimed to be new here from South Carolina on a job program. No contact info or web information that could be looked up and referenced. He just had some magazine info of laminated paper and was pushing aggressively to try and get a donation/subscription.
He went away frustrated when I said I didn’t conduct any business from door to door sales.
The archives show it’s been a while since we recapped Seattle city law – so here again are the rules for door-to-door soliciting, aka “residential sales,” as shown in the Seattle Municipal Code. Key points to remember: If they are selling something, they must have licenses and IDs and they should not be the least bit reluctant to show both to you; hours are restricted to 8 am-9 pm; if you have a “no soliciting” sign, they’re supposed to leave you alone. But if someone is simply asking for a charity contribution, they do NOT require a license. And if you suspect they’re not really soliciting, but perhaps casing – they jiggled the doorknob, for example – police say, don’t hesitate to call.
P.S. For even more details from SPD, see the second half of this Crime Prevention newsletter from last year (PDF).
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.
First time we’ve had a door-to-door alert in which it seems someone may be out there pretending to be affiliated with us. Just got a call from a manager of a Junction apartment building who says a man was there claiming to be doing a survey about Junction parking, and she said he claimed to be affiliated with West Seattle Blog. (Before we finished writing this, she called back and said he had tried to go to another nearby building, too.)
We would NEVER do a door-to-door survey OR a telephone survey OR a “stand on a streetcorner and ask people questions” survey. If we have questions for you (as we did a year and a half ago), we’ll ask them online.
The caller said the man had no ID but identified himself as “Mitch.” She described him as 60-ish, 6 feet tall, heavy-set, sports jacket and blue jeans.
Please let us know if you have had anybody claiming to be with WSB turn up at your door – or if you know this is some OTHER survey (the city had been doing another parking survey not so long ago, but we don’t believe they ever go door-to-door) – firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-293-6302 if you don’t want to comment here. Thanks!
Since door-to-door solicitors are often a hot topic here, we thought you might be interested in a news release sent today by State Attorney General Rob McKenna‘s office in Olympia. No specific companies named, but a general warning about the “door-to-door magazine sellers from out of state”: Read More
Solicitors still seem to be out in force. Two more reader reports have come in – read on:Read More
Over the past few days, we’ve received multiple reports of door-to-door solicitors – or people claiming to be – working this area. Ahead, some of those reports, and a reminder about the rules, in case somebody turns up at your door:Read More
They might be legit, they might not. Two of your West Seattle neighbors wanted to share door-to-door alerts from encounters last night, just in case:Read More
No way to tell if this was casing or legit, but a WSB’er wanted to get the word out about this Friday night encounter:
We live in townhomes on Fauntleroy Way SW near Morgan Junction. Around 8:45 PM, a white male approximately 5’8 140 lbs. with short brown hair wearing a black coat, white t-shirt, blue jeans and carrying a backpack knocked on the rear door of our unit. He said he was sorry to bother us but was wondering who he could talk to about leasing a unit in our development. These units are all owner-occupied and there are no real-estate signs advertising vacancy, etc. When we told him all units were owned he said he was sorry to bother us again and left on foot. We reported the suspicious activity to SPD and, after speaking with neighbors in the development, learned that they had seen him in the alley behind the units (near the off-street parking) and he had approached them and asked the same question.
What our tipster did is exactly what police ask you to do – particularly if the suspicious person or activity is happening NOW – call them (911 is preferred, SPD has said again recently; they can always refer you elsewhere if determining it’s not “happening now” or otherwise urgent).
2 reports of note tonight – one definitely a crime, the second one, hard to tell:
SCOOTER STOLEN: Sonia reported this one on the WSB Facebook wall. She and her daughter were at Lincoln Park late today when someone made off with her daughter’s scooter: “It was a Barbie scooter. My daughter was playing on the logs and I was taking pictures of her. We were by the construction area (Colman Pool).” If you find one abandoned somewhere, contact police, and tell them you know whose it might be.
CENSUS WORKER? OR WOULD-BE BURGLAR? Tanya had a visitor at her door along Fauntleroy in the Morgan Junction area, asking about her neighbors:Read More
Sounds like common spam e-mail, but it turned up on Brittany’s door:
Just wanna give you guys heads up that this afternoon between 4 & 4:30 my boyfriend working outside came in to find a note around our door knob giving us IMPORTANT notice that our “Chase” account needed attention. The notice was in both Spanish and English. The person walking door to door made not effort to speak with him as he was in the yard working thus leaving us to believe this is not a true important notice along with the fact that this was a at home printed note with no chase logo anywhere.
Got a call today from an Arbor Heights resident – near 44th SW and SW 102nd – who wanted to get the word out about someone who came to her door around 5 pm Monday. She told us he claimed to be raising money for Chief Sealth International High School – but she checked with the school today, and it does NOT have anyone doing door-to-door selling. She also called the police, explaining that after she told the solicitor she wasn’t interested, she watched him for a while, and when he noticed her watching, he started running, catching up with a car that was driving up and down the block. (Sorry, no descriptive info, she mainly wanted everyone to know that any such Sealth soliciting claim was bogus.)
One day before Halloween, you might get a knock on the door from someone who’ll be looking for a food-drive donation, not a treat. Angel Laycock from the soccer club HPFC Eagles says that 3-5 pm this Sunday (October 30) they’ll be out on what they call “Trick or Can“:
Small groups of our club will be going around house to house to collect canned food and what we will do is send that canned food to three different food drives which include Highline Area Food Bank, White Center Food Bank, and West Seattle Food Bank. We will be in a couple different areas that include Normandy Park, Three Tree Point, North Admiral, and a few other local locations.
Participating players range in age from 10-17, Angel tells us, and he just wants to get the word out so that you’ll consider having a food donation available if you happen to get a visit. (And if nobody comes by, trust us, there are many other drives in the works to which you can contribute.)