West Seattle door-to-door alert: ‘Brazen’ solicitor

Just out of the WSB inbox from Andrea, who began, “Just wanted to get the word out about a brazen solicitor who stopped by today:”

This afternoon I had a disturbing experience involving someone soliciting (casing) door-to-door. I live in Gatewood Gardens around 41st an SW Holly and was working from home today with my car visible in the driveway. At about 2:30-3:00 the doorbell rang, I looked through the peephole and didn’t recognize the person so called through the door that I don’t answer to strangers. I have a massive cedar slab front door and a pretty soft voice so I’m relatively sure that the person didn’t hear me. I looked through the peephole again and notice that he was flipping my doormat up with his shoe, I can only guess he was hoping to find a key.

It was an incredibly creepy feeling to actually watch someone deliberately seek out a way to gain access though I’m sure it’s standard operating procedure. The guy left the porch and went down the front walk, I went to my bedroom window and called out to him absolutely did not want to give the impression that there was no one home. He was somewhere between 5’ 10” – 6’, Caucasian, wearing khakis, a polo type shirt that was yellow or light orange and a red and black ball cap, brown hair and had startling blue eyes. He gave me a spiel about collecting for a charity benefitting Police Officers, and showed me a notebook with some flyers encased in plastic, he sounded very vague about what the purpose of the organization was or how the contributions were used. I told him I choose to give in other ways and he gave a deep sigh and went on his way. Due to the angle of the window I couldn’t see if he hit up any other houses but I know my next-door neighbors were also home.

This guy’s boldness was definitely troubling – I’m looking into other security measures though you would think the 900 ADT signs in the front and backyards would be some deterrent!

A reminder that if you think someone is suspicious, police would rather hear from you and – if they’re not on life-safety calls – confirm the person is not; we had a “casing?” report here recently that was verified by police as an actual solicitor, since they had already checked the guy out. Also one note re: Andrea’s account – police do recommend that even if you don’t want to answer the door, do make some noise to let the person know someone is home (such as, shout, SORRY, CAN’T COME TO THE DOOR), otherwise, if they ARE a burglar, you might find yourself face-to-face with them shortly.

15 Replies to "West Seattle door-to-door alert: 'Brazen' solicitor"

  • Krm66 May 16, 2012 (9:05 pm)

    Had two come by yesterday and today. One collecting points for selling magazines on break from college. He said he was a neighbor living on 22nd. I live on 5900 block of 39th.
    The one from today was collecting donations for a homeless shelter. With the nice weather it seems they are coming out more. I try to keep the dog outside more to keep these people out of my yard.

  • george May 16, 2012 (9:32 pm)

    Anyone else get the chap reading from his binder about his Mission work?

  • resident May 16, 2012 (10:19 pm)

    yea this guy stopped by at 730 pm, im in gatewood around 40th and willow. I talked to him a bit, he had a folder containing a clear zippered envelope with checks and some twenties in it, as well as a document that presumably showed his organizations 501c tax exempt status as it had an irs stamp on it. he went on a bit about how he gets a portion of donations, apparently it was some sort of halfway house or something, but i didn’t let him talk more than 20 seconds. my dog greeted him and she’s very wary of strangers but she let him pet him. all in all i don’t think he was up to no good but i told him under no circumstances would i give cash or god forbid a check to door to door solicitations, and he left. he fit the description, about 5-10, 200 lbs, khaki shorts and baseball cap. probably a misguided fund raising effort but iim a pretty big guy so i didn’t feel threatened. i doubt highly he’s a danger, at least to me. as to whether its a scam im on the fence.

  • Band geek's mom May 17, 2012 (6:37 am)

    Buy a no soliciting sign, then yell through the door NO SOLICITING.

  • DD May 17, 2012 (7:46 am)

    We had someone come by last night (35th/Findlay) – teenager asking for money for a basketball team. It was 9pm. I told him no thanks. Anyone else? Why is this such a popular scam? It makes me not want to open my door EVER.

  • Lindsey May 17, 2012 (8:26 am)

    We had a guy last Friday saying he was from a Mission out of Greenwood. Seemed nice enough, but we declined to donate. He had a big binder and a whole speech. We left for dinner and saw him on the sidewalk down the road and he remembered my husbands name, which was a tiny bit strange, but have had no reason to think he was threatening.

    • WSB May 17, 2012 (8:33 am)

      Can’t guarantee it’s the same one but the “United States Mission” solicitor could be the one who police said, when it came up in comments here last week, was legit. – TR

  • Rumbles May 17, 2012 (9:17 am)

    Did you call the police and file a report?

  • Krm66 May 17, 2012 (9:20 am)

    The guy from the mission was one of the ones that came to my door. Told him “no thanks” and he was nice and moved on.

  • lookingforlogic May 17, 2012 (10:42 am)

    It is dangerous to open your door to a solicitor, it’s dangerous to enter a stranger house. It’s illogical to use door to door sales as a business tool. So why does this outdated process still continue? Wishful thinking, just try to scam another nickel.

    We need to make this so unprofitable so that I don’t have to be suspicious every time my door bell rings.

  • sarelly May 17, 2012 (12:48 pm)

    We got one of those bogus magazine salesman visits within the last week in 35th & Holly area. I looked out my mail slot only because I was expecting someone else. The guy immediately launched into a monologue that sounded like a parody of the fake magazine solicitation pitch – wondered if the guy got his material from Saturday Night Live. It’s best never to open the door to someone you don’t know.

    Presumably these people are somewhat successful or they wouldn’t keep doing it, but didn’t legitimate door-to-door sales go out in the 1950s? For that matter, are telemarketers successful? Don’t get me started….

  • 2 Much Whine May 17, 2012 (1:12 pm)

    I don’t understand how anyone knows what these folks want. I sit in my living room (which they can see into as they walk up) and don’t answer the door at all. They can knock all they want. I have no responsibility to be polite or even acknowledge that they are there – they are invading my privacy. I figure that leaves them guessing because if nobody answers the door (even when we’re obviously home) they won’t know if we’re home or not the next time they knock.

  • DukeMalisto May 17, 2012 (5:38 pm)

    Wow.. I can’t believe how much fear and paranoia is being expressed in such benign events such as this. I understand sometimes people can be creepy, but most of us are just born that way, lol. Just talk through the door if you don’t want to open it.

    I’ve done a fair share of fund raising, and the most affordable method to make money when you start out with none, is to use word-of-mouth and door-to-door tactics. It’s very effective and cheaper than posting a commercial. Did you know the majority of local websites where you can post freely about local events or fundraisers look like fake websites, and so are ignored by a large portion of your audience? Door-to-Door or curbside sales are still more effective in neighborhoods like we have in West Seattle.

    Asking for a look at the paperwork is a pretty good idea, because although the people trying to legitimately sell people products (magazines, candy, etc), they often don’t get trained on what they’re selling or how the back-end works. That’s more of a management type of question, so if you get a phone number from the sheet, often there’s a business you can call to find out if it’s a real company.

  • Marcus M May 17, 2012 (8:31 pm)

    Here’s a tip: if you find yourself planning on posting to WSB about your recent shady visitor, do yourself and your neighbors a favor and call the cops instead. It’s more effective.

  • george May 18, 2012 (9:18 am)

    Look like the door to door “team” was hitting Genesee last night. Saw singles on 46th/Andover and 48th/Genesee waiting for pickup after 8pm.

Sorry, comment time is over.