Crime Fighter: Suspicious Solicitors

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee December 16, 2009

We're happy to introduce our new weekly crime prevention column, Crime Fighter. If you've got problems in your neighborhood with pitbull puppy mills, meth dealers, or teenage hoodlums and aren't sure what to do, leave a post over in the forum—also a great way to alert your neighbors—and we'll get you advice from cops, local polticos, and maybe even a few criminals.

A West Seattle man returned home on December 5th to find that his laptop had been stolen. While a police report says there were no obvious signs of forced entry into his home, the man's neighbors told him that another man wearing a Comcast uniform had been knocking on doors in the area, asking people if they were satisfied with their service. While it's entirely possible that the Comcast employee was the real deal, burglars and thieves have also been known to dress up as legit solicitors to case homes for future break-ins.

A few weeks ago, our very own Brian Slodysko had a weird run-in with a solicitor at his home in Ballard—more on that soon—which got us wondering: how can you find out of a solicitor/gutter cleaner/girl scout is the real deal?

“The fact of the matter is, you really can’t," says Seattle Police Department spokesman Sean Whitcomb. " It’s not uncommon when you’re living in an urban environment for solicitors to approach you[.] The best thing you can do is to never let a strange in your house.“

Whitcomb says you can ask a solicitor for identification but, he notes, even ID can "be easily forged” and that it's easy for someone to pose as an employee of a legitimate charity or company.

“I think most people who door to door sales and business proposals are generally well intentioned. That said, it’s just a good practice to never let strangers in your home. If discussing a proposal with someone who you don’t know, don’t feel obligated.” Whitcomb recommends speaking to solicitors outside of your home, if you're comfortable doing so.

Photo via flickr.

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