Editor’s note: A veteran police officer from the local area wrote Patch to describe what he’s seen with door-to-door magazine sellers here.
To the editor:
Many of these "sellers" are recently released from jail or prisons in the Midwest and East Coast. Both Shoreline and Lake Forest Park PDs contact them to find outstanding warrants, sizeable criminal records including serious felonies (in one case, I found a convicted murderer from the Midwest, just recently released). Some have been caught casing houses, prowling vehicles and the like. The companies they are supposed to work for scam a huge sum of money from them as well.
Citizens would do well to demand their city licenses to solicit (they must produce them upon demand in Lake Forest Park) and absent that, decline to purchase any magazines. Further, call the respective police departments and report the sellers if they are not legitimate. These sellers need to be contacted, warned and learn that citizens are watching and protecting their community interests.
In one neighborhood, I was doing a roadside chat with a King County Sheriff's Office deputy who was working the Burke Gilman during construction. Saw two obvious sellers go by and knew no permits had been issued recently. Stopped and contacted them. One was from Washington and one from the south someplace. The Washington one had a warrant.
In another neighborhood, responded to a complaint about aggressive solicitors who clearly suggested that the citizen was not buying from them because they were black. I contacted the solicitors and one was from Kansas and the other from California. Both had criminal records. The one from Kansas has serious felonies including burglary and was just released from probation.
In another area, contacted two female solicitors. Both were from the Midwest, had just been released from jail and both had criminal records.
Of all the illegal solicitors I have contacted over the years, the majority (well over 65%) have had criminal records of some kind. As mentioned before, it ranged from simple misdemeanors to vehicle theft to vehicle prowls to burglary to homicide (that was an interesting contact).
These sellers will use aggressive tactics, including their ethnic makeup, in order to "guilt" citizens to buy magazine subscriptions that are over priced and ones they will unlikely ever see.
In Lake Forest Park, legitimate solicitors who are not religious or political oriented do obtain solicitor licenses and do produce them when requested (such as WASHPIRG or some tree companies). But the surest way to determine whether a solicitor is legitimate or not is to see an actual Shoreline or LFP solicitor license.
But above it all, these “sales” are a scam. Unfortunately, they will often use race as a means to exert pressure on citizens, especially older citizens or seniors. They want checks and money but often, the citizens will not get the subscription or they citizen pays too much for such a subscription. Often, these people are promised all sorts of things to come west (given bus tickets as a means of transport west) and promised all sorts of things like college money, good pay, trips to Disneyland and so on. Again, a scam. Products sold or solicited to buy range from Kirby vacuums to cleaning supplies to magazine subscriptions.