Door to Door Solicitors - Will They Burglarize?

Door-to-door solicitors. Are they potentially burglarizing your home? Read our article and watch our video to answer these questions.

Door-to-door solicitors, primarily pushing magazine subscriptions, are looked on with suspicion when they enter a neighborhood. They go door-to-door, hoping to get someone to come to the door and listen to their patter.

A criminal, posing as a solicitor, will knock on your door or ring on your bell and hope that no one's home. But, if you do respond, they'll excuse themselves and leave. 

An actual door-to-door solicitor will begin his business at your doorstep in much the same manner: he will knock at your door or ring your bell. But he's hoping your home!

Frankly, these people often look suspicious. They look “street smart” and quite often are.

Even though you may never have purchased a magazine subscription or a bottle of “super cleaner” from many of these fellows, and you can't imagine how anyone else would either, it turns out that many people do.  Either out of sympathy or as a consequence of a well drilled sales presentation (or both) many people actually do buy from these fellows.

The fact is, many of these fellows make hundreds, sometimes as much as a couple thousand dollars a day. 

Companies train recruiters who go out throughout the states recruiting, generally, young men. They are promised free travel and free lodging as they “see the world”. The free lodging is typically a cramped motel room and “seeing the world” often means “seeing San Fernando Valley” and Hollywood, but that's okay and, for a lot of kids from many places in the states it's looked at as a real opportunity. 

Typically, when you purchase a magazine subscription from one of these men, he's going to be able to pocket 50% of what you pay.

So, don't expect this business to “go away”! It's here forever. 

But, what about the general character of these people? What about your intuitive suspicion? 

Well, what your hunch is telling you may be right. Some of these people have a criminal past. Typically it's not very much. Something, perhaps with DUI or petty theft; typically not what the cops would consider “serious crime”. But, many have had their “brushes with the law.”

But, what they're being engaged in as they are selling in your neighborhood is not criminal or illegal. It's a genuine business. If your city requires it, they have typically got a license to sell in your area. When you ask for it, they will have it and will show it to you.

And, a lot of these people are good people, certainly even a majority of them. For many of them this is their first taste of “sweet success”; they see that a large part of the formula is being forthright and honest and they don't want to endanger their success by doing anything stupid.

We don't have any horror stories to tell you about people answering their doors to such solicitors and being mugged or their home invaded. (Thank God!) But, we can't swear that this hasn't happened somewhere at sometime.

Perhaps, there's even been an Avon lady or two who had been arrested for such heinous acts! But these events are infinitesimally small in comparison.

But, there have been arrests made for property theft. Typically small items from unlocked cars. (You see, these young men are generally driven to neighborhoods in vans and dropped off to scour a particular area. They really don't have the capability to steal anything big; they're on foot.)

We've talked with police who consider that these people are generally, at worst, “opportunists” at crime: they are not the type who will rob you or hurt you.  But, you may be asking just a little too much of them if you expect to have them ignore the expensive cell phone you've left on the seat of your car.

So, we're not suggesting that you cower in your closet if such a person comes to your door. Definitely, tell your children not to answer if you're not home at that moment. And, if you're a single woman living by yourself, don't open the door foranyone you don't know well and trust.

And, the truth of the matter is that you can often purchase these same magazines and other products online at lower costs. 

So, don't call the police if one of these comes to your door. Or call 911. But, don't feel that you have to answer the door either...

...unless you just happen to be wanting to buy some magazines or 100-In-1 All-Purpose Silver, Chrome and Tire Cleaners. 

For more information about residential and business security, including how-to articles, common sense tools... and some very sophisticated security technology, please visitwww.mulhollandsecurity.com.


Avi Ben David, the author of this article, is the president of Mulholland Security Centers, Inc. He is also known as “Professor Security.”

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dan Locke March 25, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Thank you as well, Gerald for your very pertinent information.
Dan Locke March 25, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Scott Killeen...Thanks very much... I am trying to read this carefully, but not entirely sure that I understand. In your first paragraph, it says that this sort of soliciting is illegal, and then the third paragraph says that door to door sales is prohibited between 8 pm and 8 am. The rest of your info in that paragraph seems to give different guidelines by which it is legal. So, is door to door soliciting illegal, or is it legal if you do it in the right hours and have some photo id?
Gerald Elekes March 25, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Thanks. SLO is Senior Lead Officer. NW is Neighborhood Watch. LE is law enforcement. The SLO's work in community affairs and with NW groups to identify, to address, and to eliminate problems in specific areas called RD's. RD's are LAPD's Reporting Districts. For example, RD 1501 encompasses a certain geographic boundry in North Hollywood, and an SLO is specifically assigned to it. SLO's can be contacted directly at each LAPD Division to discuss neighborhood issues. Solicitation of magazine subscriptions or any service or product for "future delivery" is prohibited. Other forms of solicitation are legal with a valid LA Business Tax Permit and a government issued, photo ID-- ex. Driver's License-- which must be presented upon request-- and only between the hours of 8 AM and 8 PM. LAMC 41.43.1 and 42.19 address these ordinances specifically. (Los Angeles Municipal Code-- found on LA City Website) I'm going to write a blog on this whole issue-- including street sales, solicitation for money-- begging and panhandling-- trespassing, and the LAMC both restricting and allowing it in order to further clarify it. Find me under Toluca-North Hollywood Patch "Local Voices."
Pat April 01, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Or we can point a gun at them and yell, "Get outta here or I'll blow your head off!" Ha, that'll make 'em disappear...for good. ;)
Pat April 03, 2012 at 12:27 AM
Just recently somebody came to my front door with a sales pitch. When I asked him if he was selling magazine subscriptions, and his reply was "I'm selling dreams and opportunities", I said no thanks and closed the door. Why? Because I now know it's illegal to sell magazine subscriptions door to door. I also wish I had one of those devices that you can put on the front tire of your car to keep it from being driven off. Is there any place I can buy one of those?


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