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Hostile solicitor near Discovery Park

July 29th, 2013 · 14 Comments

This came from a reader on W Emerson St across from Discovery Park:

At about 7:30pm Thursday 7/25/13, I heard a very familiar sounding knock on my door (the kind where it’s your best friend or a relative). I went to the door and looked out the speakeasy to see a man I’d never seen before. I felt something was not right, so I politely said I was sorry but did not accept any solicitors, and closed the speakeasy. When I did that, he started yelling, “you don’t even know who I am, you didn’t even give me a chance”.  I opened the speakeasy  and said, okay who are you and what do you want. Then he become very hostile, and said “nevermind, I’ll get what I came for”, and then proceeded to take pictures of my house from the sidewalk, and started cursing at me with racial slurs.
My sister was at my house and she followed him up the street and into Discovery Park. The whole time he was cursing racial slurs at her. She told him she got his picture. He disappeared into the park.
I called 911 and reported him. He was about 6’, slim build, African American with very dark skin. Freshly groomed, wearing brown slacks, and a beige/apricot colored dress shirt. Perhaps harmless, but he scared me. He was really hostile. Thought I would let you know so you can spread the word, in case others have had the same experience.

Here are the tips from SPD regarding solicitors (taken from a story originally posted on our sister site Queen Anne View):

This is the peak time of year for door-to-door sales, including those using traveling sales crews.  There are many legitimate companies in this industry with professionally trained salespeople, selling between the hours of 8:00am and 9:00pm, and a long history of law-abiding customer service.  There are, however, less reputable companies in this business willing to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals who trust people knocking at their door.  Sometimes residents forget to practice good personal safety.

Seattle Police officers respond to calls from citizens concerned about door-to-door salespeople.  The results have ranged from the officers checking identification and sending the seller to the City of Seattle Revenue & Consumer Affairs office for their business license, to arrests of individuals posing as residential sellers, but wanted on warrants. There have also been arrests for aggressive behavior, threats made against the resident, burglaries, and assaults.

Homeowners may consider posting a sign indicating “No agents,” “No peddlers,” or “No Solicitors.”  In Seattle, it is unlawful for any residential seller to attempt to gain admittance for the purpose of selling at any residence displaying one of these signs.

With these facts in mind, what should you do when a person knocks at your door?

BEFORE OPENING YOUR DOOR: LOOK FOR PROPER IDENTIFICATION.  Acknowledge the knock since ignoring it may lead to an attempted burglary.  It is preferable to speak to strangers through your door.  In Seattle, all door-to-door sellers must display the residential sales identification which includes the seller’s photograph on their outer clothing.  The residential sales agent’s license has the name of the licensee as well as the agent.  It shall be endorsed with the type of product or service being sold. The license is only valid for the product or service specified.  If you have any questions about whether a company is properly licensed, call the City of Seattle’s Office of Revenue & Consumer Affairs at 206-684-8136.

DISCLOSURE REQUIRED:  Each residential seller shall, immediately upon contacting the prospective buyer, disclose their name, company and the product or service represented.  If requested to do so, they shall leave the premises immediately.  If the individual does not leave, or if an attempt to gain access is made by asking to use the bathroom, the phone or get a drink of water, refuse the request and ask the individual to leave.  If you feel intimidated, pressured, or threatened at any time, call 911.

USE GOOD JUDGEMENT: It is safer not to allow the salesperson into your home.  You are encouraged to avoid paying immediately.  Do not give the salesperson cash or a check, as it may be pocketed and you will never receive the product ordered.  Instead, find out from the seller how you can order directly from the company or receive the bill upon receipt of the product/service.  If the salesperson is concerned about losing their commission for the sale, offer to provide their name when placing your order.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: In Seattle, if you make a purchase, the salesperson must tell you of your right to cancel the order and the contract must include a statement regarding the right to cancel.  For each sale of ten dollars or more, the seller must provide a receipt or contract to the purchaser.  Do not leave any blanks on your contract.  Be sure the contract or receipt is dated and that it states the terms of the transaction, the amount of payment made and the name and address of the residential seller.  It must also include a notice informing the buyer of their right to cancel the order any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction.  A completed Notice of Cancellation (in duplicate) must be provided to the purchaser at the time they purchase from the seller.  You do not need to provide a reason for canceling your order.

DO NOT GIVE IN TO HIGH PRESSURE TACTICS:  Never be afraid to say “NO!”  If a salesperson in your home tries to pressure you into buying their product, terminate your conversation with them.  Take the time to contact the company directly if you still have interest in the product or service.  Avoid making an immediate purchase in order to receive a “free gift.”  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

When should you call 911? If an unlicensed sales person shows up at your residence, call 911 and report it.  Calling as soon as possible with a good description,  direction the suspicious person is traveling, and address will all help officers locate the suspect(s).

And, as a general reminder, it’s not just the non-licensed solicitors that are targeting our neighborhood. Car prowls and break-ins are still occurring with too-regular frequency. For any suspicious activities or people, SPD advises calling 911 as soon as possible.

Here are the key items of information that help SPD when you call 911:

  • Good description of the person
  • Location – street name, number or hundred block, or address
  • Direction of travel
  • Identifying features and/or items: race, gender, height, weight, age, clothing, and any distinguishing features. Are they carrying a backpack? What color is it?

Remember to report all crimes and suspicious activity to SPD by calling 911 or the non-emergency number (206.625.5011).

Tags: Uncategorized

  • Snarkbark

    Be a real shame if things started happening to these scumbag solicitors. People have had about all they can take from the never ending army of criminals casing our neighborhood posing as this or that. They can do whatever they want to us and then simply run away (chances of getting caught are small), but we can’t touch them. Shows the kind of backwards world we live in.

    • ericsmith

      Careful about that. People say nasty things to people everywhere…grocery store, from cars, in parks. If you aggress against them before they’ve accosted you on your own property it is a recipe for disaster…for your safety, for your resulting incarceration if you harm them, and for the rage you’ll feel when the person is released for just being a jerk. I agree we have had enough and it is extremely frustrating and unfair to we homeowners, but it is better to figure a way to keep them off your property. Once they are off it…PLEASE don’t become another Zimmerman case, no matter how you view the outcome.

      • JDPSam

        There are legitimate reasons for someone to knock on your door, and take pictures. For example, your homeowner’s insurance company does this periodically, looking for signs of excess risk such as fire hazards or unpermitted construction. Not to say this is the case but you should not assume that everyone that knocks on the door is a solicitor. I would advise posting a “no soliciting” sign if you don’t like to be bothered, it may deter some of them.

    • May

      Snarkbark, it sounds like an army of one guy from the postings here. FYI, we have friends who fit the physical descriptions living near the village and Discovery Park area and are wonderful and upright citizens. They like to take walks around the neighborhood. So please don’t do anything crazy.

  • ghostinprint

    I don’t think I would follow someone like that down the street!
    Just call the police and stay inside. You are not Nancy Drew!!

  • Scrooge

    This guy left a similar trail on Queen Anne over the last several weeks doing the exact same things.

  • Rtwalbrun

    A man fitting the same description was at our house near Manor Par last week. He said he needed to acquire “signatures for a promotion”. When I figured out he was selling magazines, or at least collecting money for them, I asked him to leave. He was hostile and took photos of me. Threatened to tell my neighbors I did not support “troubled youth”. It was a disturbing interaction.

  • Raven

    I emailed in to Magnolia Voice about a man fitting a similar description who approached our home back in May, who not only threatened me, but followed me to my car. It didn’t get posted up here, either. :( Why is this guy still on the street? He’s threatened several people with harm, which is a crime.

  • smac

    This sounds like the person who visited our townhome on 36th ave back in the April/May time frame. We were outside and he wondered over and asked to borrow a pen so he could write down the phone number on the towing signs in the parking lot. He then followed my husband into our garage, becoming rather confrontational. He wanted to return the pen but only to me. I then entered the garage carrying a cat which caused this guy to back down and smile. He then wondered off but we were left wth an unsettled feeling.

  • G S

    This dude knocked on my door last week also. I’m down by Gillman and 30th. I didnt answer the door but made sure he heard my GSD barking.
    Last year while I was at work, 2 black guys (according to several witnesses) kicked in my front door around noon on a Friday and stole a bunch of portable electronics items including my laptop.
    Strangely enough, a few weeks before the incident, I had 2 very aggessive black girls knock on my door and try to sell me magazines. They would not take no for an answer and got very upset with me. I wonder if the 2 are related which could explain why this jerk is taking pictures.

  • dh

    Same guy came to my house Saturday afternoon. Said something about soliciting money for troubled youth. I told him no thank you and he got belligerent. He implied that white people won’t help black kids and then stormed off. Same guy, dark skin African American with tan pants and tan shirt. I live right outside the south entrance of Discovery Park.

  • James

    A person matching this description was working North Tacoma a few weeks ago. Complaint from residents to Tacoma Police Department on July 7th. TPD received surveillance camera images of him and have a possible ID, as well as the company he supposedly works for. I’ve sent an email to TPD to get in touch with SPD.

  • Conrarian

    Nice informative message, except for THIS part:

    “. In Seattle, all door-to-door sellers must display the residential
    sales identification which includes the seller’s photograph on their outer clothing.”
    Why no generic photo of what this ID looks like?

  • JS2012

    Guess what, neighbors! My idiot husband wrote that guy a check lat Friday night. I can’t believe my husband was ready to give someone shady $180.