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“I’m just a dolphin”

January 25, 2011

Are you familiar with this old SNL skit with Gilda Radner? The door bells rings and she says “who is it?”, the person answers “it’s the plumber”, but it’s really the “Land Shark” ready to eat her. She says, “I didn’t call a plumber, I know who you are, you’re that Land Shark!” He says,  “I’m just a dolphin.”  “Oh, a dolphin.  Well, OK”  Then she opens the door and gets eaten by the Land Shark.

According to the South Precinct Police newsletter, there are a number of “Land Sharks” making their way through our neighborhoods.  They are posing as city employees, home security salespeople, and political canvassers.  What they are really after is to scope out your house to see if they want to return later and make off with your stuff.  For some reason, when someone knocks on our door we feel obligated to answer.  Maybe because we don’t want to appear rude, or we’re curious, or we’re extroverted and glad to have someone to talk to.  Whatever the reason, the next time someone rings the bell and you don’t know them, think twice before answering the door.

Here is an excerpt of the police newsletter:

“City Employees” On Tuesday, January 11th officers responded to two separate incidents of thieves posing as city workers to get access to victims‟ homes. The two adult male suspects used the ruse of claiming to be from the Water Department. They would then enter the home and wander around turning on faucets and telling the occupants they were checking the water quality. Once inside, one suspect rummaged around while the other distracted the homeowner(s). In one case, jewelry was stolen. It did not appear that anything was stolen in the other.

First, it is very unlikely that any City of Seattle Employee would be going door-to-door and asking for access to your home. The one possible exception would be representatives of Seattle City Light’s Powerful Neighborhood Program. These employees have been going door-to-door in select neighborhoods to provide free compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) showerheads and faucet aerators. They offer to install the CFLs and leave behind the showerhead and faucet aerator for you to install. For more information about this program, contact (206) 449–1132, send an email to SCL_install@seattle.gov, or check the following web link: http://www.seattle.gov/light/install/

 

Secondly, any City of Seattle employee will have picture identification that has his/her name, department and serial number on their laminated ID. This ID needs to be prominently displayed and/or produced upon request. If the individual claiming to be from the City does not have a City of Seattle picture ID, s/he is not a City of Seattle employee. Call 911 right away to let us know about such individuals and alert your neighbors to do the same. And do not open the door or let them in. It‟s okay to talk to people at your door through your door.

 

 
“Endorsed by SPD” Neighbors reported an individual going door-to-door with flyers that co-opted a previous SPD burglary alert with the SPD logo encouraging residents to contact the number on the flyer for a monitored home security system. The flyer gave the impression that SPD and the individual on the flyer were working together to promote residents getting a home security system from the individual and that SPD was endorsing said individual’s business. Nope. No City of Seattle government entity can endorse a specific commercial enterprise. The Seattle Police Department cannot (nor will) recommend one security company over another. We do not allow our logo to be used to promote private businesses or any commercial venture. If you encounter anyone claiming their commercial enterprise is endorsed by the City of Seattle in general or the Police Department specifically, they are lying. Please call 911 if you encounter these people with SPD lookalike brochures.
Secondly, anyone engaged in door to-door sales must have a Picture ID Badge and a copy of their Business License that must have the Residential Sales Agent License endorsement on it. Any other badge or license is invalid. The ID badge should be prominently displayed and/or produced upon request. Further, door-to-door sales people need to abide by the solicitation rules set forth by the Department of Revenue. These include hours of operation (not before 8am or after 9pm), honoring “no peddlers,” “no solicitors,” signs and other restrictions. For specific and requirements regarding door-to-door sales, contact the City of Seattle Department of Revenue and Consumer Protection Division at (206)-684-8484, or email: rca@seattle.gov. Regarding door-to-door sellers, it‟s okay to talk to people at your door through your door, tell them “no thank you”, and send them on their way.  

“Political Canvassers” In recent days, there have been numerous reports of young males coming to individual homes, trying to get residents to sign a healthcare reform petition. The subjects(s) have been very insistent and aggressive in getting the residents to open their doors. The subjects(s) did not have any badge identification and were described as unprofessionally dressed. In the accounts of these incidents, none of the residents signed the petition or allowed these individuals access to their homes. Neighbors exercised sound judgment in refusing to open the door for these individuals as well as not giving out their personal information (name, address, signature, and other personal information for which they may have asked) to a stranger. 
Political canvassers and signature gatherers do not have the same identification, badging and licensing requirements as commercial door-to-door sales. There are sparse guidelines regarding political contact in residential settings. While there may be no codified requirement for them to do so, canvassers, campaigners and signature gathers should identify whom or what cause they represent and they should honor the restrictions on solicitation hours (8am – 9pm), and “no peddlers,” “no solicitors,” signs. After all, if they irritate you, they are not going to get you to support their cause or candidate. If you do agree to sign a petition or other form, be aware of what personal identifying information you are giving out. You should never give out banking information or your social security number to any solicitor, whether door-to-door or on-line. If the solicitor asks for a contribution, they should provide a receipt for all monies received, regardless if it is check, credit card or cash. And while they may be insistent that you give a contribution right then and there (which most will), you can be just as insistent that your contribution will be sent to the campaign office or to the organization via US Mail or made on-line, rather than give the contribution to the person at the door.

If the solicitors, canvassers or signature gatherers are aggressive, do not represent an acknowledged cause, refuse to provide some type of identifying documents or literature, or violate the guidelines regarding hours or “no solicitor” signs, alert police and your neighbors. And do not let them in.

If you do agree to sign a petition or other form, be aware of what personal identifying information you are giving out. You should never give out banking information or your social security number to any solicitor, whether door-to-door or on-line. If the solicitor asks for a contribution, they should provide a receipt for all monies received, regardless if it is check, credit card or cash. And while they may be insistent that you give a contribution right then and there (which most will), you can be just as insistent that your contribution will be sent to the campaign office or to the organization via US Mail or made on-line, rather than give the contribution to the person at the door. 
 
Notice a theme here? Do not open your door to those individuals you don’t know. It’s okay to talk to people at your door through your door.

 

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary permalink
    January 27, 2011 10:21 am

    good article – a real public service. Thank you.

  2. January 27, 2011 12:10 pm

    You are very welcome!

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