What’s worse than a door-to-door salesman?
A burglar posing as a salesmen.
That’s right, the person knocking on your door to entice you to buy a new vacuum cleaner may actually be interested in taking your possessions, not adding to them.
A New Method For Casing Homes
Some would-be burglars have discovered that posing as salesmen and saleswomen gives them a “safe” way of casing entire neighbourhoods.
Normally, when a stranger walks up to one home after another, it will draw the attention of neighbours. But not with a salesman – after all, walking up to people’s houses is exactly what everyone expects a door-to-door salesman to do, right?
Police Are Finding More Burglars Posing as Salesmen
In November of 2012, KCBS reporter Margie Shafer learned from police that a dozen homes in San Mateo, California had been broken into by a team posing as salesmen and knocking on doors during the day to see who was – and, more importantly, who wasn’t – at home.
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News reported that Wichita, Kansas was having similar problems, explaining that “The crooks are pretending to sell Kirby Vacuum Cleaners, but investigators say what they’re really doing is scoping out neighbourhoods to find easy burglary targets.”
The burglars, a man and a woman, would then return a couple weeks later and break into the home when no one was there.
A man in Santa Barbara County was nabbed for this door-to-door salesman tactic. California Lutheran University broadcaster KCLU reported that he was pretending to sell magazines, but was actually breaking into houses.
More recently, police in Boston are warning of thieves posing as utility workers, while in Springfield police warn of man posing as electric company worker.
Bad For Genuine Salespeople
As if door-to-door salespeople didn’t already have a hard enough job and a bad enough reputation (does anyone really want to be interrupted by a sales pitch in the middle of their day?), this burglar trend certainly doesn’t help matters.
Not only does it make would-be customers less likely to open the door, but they might also be more likely to call the cops.
Regarding the situation in Wichita, the Kirby Vacuum Company actually issued a statement saying, “The company apologises to these unsuspecting consumers as they relied on the rogue salespeople’s misrepresentations of having an affiliation with the Kirby name.”
You have to feel bad for Kirby, as having burglars pose as your employees is a brand killer.
Watching Out For Fake Solicitors
KCBS noted that Sargent Dave Norris, of the San Mateo Police Department, made a point of explaining that the majority of times burglars are arrested while in the act is thanks to what you might describe as “nosy neighbours.”
So don’t be afraid to call the police if you see suspicious activity in the area – your neighbour may thank you for it later.
It just so happens that real Kirby Vacuum salespeople carry Kirby ID cards, as do salespeople for many other organisations that do door-to-door sales. Therefore, if someone does come to your door claiming to be selling a product or service, it would be wise to ask for their identification first.
If they don’t have an ID, make an excuse, and quickly leave, that would be another good reason to call the authorities so that they can keep an eye out.
The idea that burglars might risk exposure by pretending to sell products in broad daylight might seem far-fetched, but as the problem has already been identified in several towns, it’s clearly very real and some burglars are discovering that it’s an effective way to case a neighbourhood.
What can you do? Simply being aware is key. You may want to avoid opening your door to strange salespeople, or at least ask them for ID if you do. If you have any suspicions, report them to the police so that they can investigate further.
Remember, “nosy neighbours” often make for a safer neighbourhood!