West Seattle door-to-door alerts: 3 reports – legit or not?

Three reader reports we’ll classify as door-to-door alerts, although two weren’t solicitations so much as requests for help – both very similar, a man and child approaching people outside their homes in the Fairmount Springs area. Read on for all three reports:

First, this one received tonight:

Just wanted to report some odd activity here in West Seattle on 14th Ave. SW between Henderson and Barton. I had a young man, probably in his 20s, blond hair, probably about 5’8″ come to my door around 9 PM tonight totting a bottle of Kirby stain remover and claiming to be a salesperson for Kirby. He was WAY too false friendly to be taken seriously. I tried to be polite mentioning that oh yeah I have a carpet cleaning machine so no thanks. He had the gall to ask me to go get it.

He was persistent, annoyingly so, to the point of basically begging if he could come in my house to clean the carpet or couch. He said “Please” about three times in a more and more annoying voice. Once I snapped out of my drowsy and polite state I persisted with “No” and he got the message when I basically started closing the door on him. He had no badge, no name tag or anything. A little odd, if you ask me. A friend pointed out that generally Kirby salespeople make appointments and never at 9 at night.

Just thought I’d share with you all in case there is a pattern to this or it has happened before. I am creeped out. I contacted my block watch captain and left her a message.

Last night (Monday), Cathy reported this encounter from near 39th/Juneau:

About half an hour ago while I was out in my garden, a man called to me over the fence. He had a 6 or 7 year old daughter with a back pack at his side. He asked about places to stay in the neighborhood, churches that are open. He said he went to the Food Bank but it wasn’t open, and that he had a place to stay in Puyallup, but couldn’t get there. Also, he was getting the key to a tribal house tomorrow, but had nowhere to go tonight. He was asking if there was a place that could take them in – possibly a church.

I didn’t know what exactly he wanted, so I called some shelters and other numbers, but had no luck – no one takes little girls with their Dads. He decided to move on.

I’m not sure exactly what I should have done, or even if he was on the level. Just reporting this.

It sounded a lot like what another WSB’er had reported happening on Sunday, just blocks away:

(Sunday) afternoon, my husband and I were outside weeding in our front yard near 38th and Graham, and a man and a little girl walked up and asked us if we knew of anywhere they could get help finding a place to get shelter for the night. He was a really big guy, Latino or native with tattoos on his arm and two tear drop tattoos under his eye. The little girl looked to be about 6.

He said they had had just gotten to town on Wednesday and he had moved trying to get away from relatives (implying a bad influence situation), and had run out of money for shelter, and couldn’t find anywhere that he could get shelter for both him and the little girl together. He said he had tried the Catholic Church up the street, housing authority, called the police department, but couldn’t find any help on a Sunday night, so he was asking around to see if anyone knew of places or if he could do some work for them to get enough money to get a motel for another night.

He didn’t outright ask for any money, and even took a little while after we tried to think of any places with services, to ask if he could do some work to get the money… I am probably a sucker, but I believed him and just gave him the rest of what he said he needed to get a motel for the night…. Has anyone else reported stuff like this? I am wondering if it is just a scam, or if this guy really needed help? Are there any places where a man and child can get emergency shelter in West Seattle?

My husband was pretty unhappy that I gave him money … but it really felt to me like he needed help… Wondering if any readers have a better approach to handle situations like this, when someone asks you for help?

Impossible to know if this was a legitimate need or not, unless someone out there has a more direct knowledge of the situation. We offered a few thoughts on emergency resources, but realized we could stand to be better-educated on those ourselves, regardless of whether this was a case truly in need of them or not.

10 Replies to "West Seattle door-to-door alerts: 3 reports - legit or not?"

  • greengardn May 24, 2011 (11:38 pm)

    This man (and his daughter with the backpack) have come in to our church during evening choir practice twice during the past nine months with the same story. The first time a few people gave him money, but he was asked to leave the second time. He’s also been seen in Bellevue by other members of our choir. Seems to me that if he had a place to stay in Puyallup he’d have gotten there by now…

  • huskyflake May 25, 2011 (3:55 am)

    greengardn – sort of stunned by your comment, really makes me miss going to church. Regardless, hope folks know about calling 211. It’s a service for people that are in all sorts of binds (emergency shelter, substance abuse, domestic violence, etc.). Phones are only manned M-F, 8-5, but win211.org is a great site to get familiar with what’s available in your immediate area.

  • JW May 25, 2011 (7:25 am)

    My partner & I were approached by this same young man and child last summer in Morgan Junction. Same story. Polite and no out and out request for money. Seemed genuine but now I’m wondering what the real story is? Regardless, a sad situation.

  • Katie May 25, 2011 (8:37 am)

    The Compass Center in Seattle is another option. Most places won’t take a single dad and his kids because of liability reasons, but the Compass Center is a great place. Even if they don’t have room/won’t take him and his daughter, they have incredibly helpful staff that can help him find the shelter he needs.

  • squareeyes May 25, 2011 (9:02 am)

    I think this is a fairly common scam, last summer I saw a man with a young boy in the Junction asking for taxi fare to get to a shelter downtown. It’s just so sad that scammers involve children in their manipulations.

  • greengardn May 25, 2011 (11:41 am)

    When you hear the exact same story a few months apart and find that it is still being used today, it sounds like a scam. As I said, people did give him money the first time. At 8 or 9 pm, we had no idea where they could go to get help so I’m glad to see there are options available in the area. I’ve never heard of 211 before, but I’ll check it out.

  • madashell May 25, 2011 (5:01 pm)

    I say call 911 and report this dude to CPS ASAP. No child deserves to be used like this.

  • Hoosier May 25, 2011 (5:18 pm)

    This same man and little girl knocked on my door about 8:30pm Monday. He simply asked what time it was. I figured he might be casing the neighborhood? It was odd to say the least.

  • Jasperblu May 25, 2011 (7:44 pm)

    Am I the only one concerned about the little girl here?

  • Paul May 25, 2011 (11:44 pm)

    too bad the church didn’t call the cops..who knows for sure if the little girl is even his..on a side note I am curious as to why the church asked him to leave..are they not supposed to save souls and help people and stuff? If not the father at least watch out for the saftey of the little girl? wtf?

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