Off the Blotter: Sorting Solicitors
“Off the Blotter” is an opportunity for the Lexington Police Department to share what is happening here in Lexington and in your neighborhood. This edition was authored by Chief Mark Corr.
The doorbell rings, you answer it and a young man starts his sales pitch. He introduces himself and seeks to capture your attention.
The door-to-door sales person is a readily recognized American entrepreneur. These young men and women are willing to accept hundreds of refusals to make a few sales. This is a tough way to make a living and common during difficult economic times. Unfortunately, for all of the very good sales people, there are a few who are antagonistic, combative or engaged in scams.
Lexington allows Hawkers and Peddlers, and this includes door-to-door sales. Individuals and/or groups must have a permit with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and then must check-in with the Lexington Police Department. Typically, we identify who and where the solicitors will be working. We review works hours, identify individuals who should not be soliciting and issue a Lexington permit.
Residents are invited to contact the Police Department if they have any concerns or complaints about solicitors (781-862-1212, ext. 0 for dispatch). If a solicitor is assaultive or refuses to leave your property, call 9-1-1.
Not all people who come to your door are solicitors. Religious organizations and charitable or political groups are not bound by the laws governing solicitors. It is their right to canvass neighborhoods to speak about their organization or beliefs. These groups are encouraged to contact the Police Department so we are familiar with their locations.
The worst-case scenario is the scam artist who solicits business at your door. They notice that your house needs painting, the roof needs repair or the driveway needs sealing. They offer you a “bargain” price because they are in the neighborhood and have some time to fill. They will target older residents and ask for cash or immediate payment. If someone comes to your door with an offer like this, please call the Police Department immediately. Many of these scam artists are well known to the police and we welcome the opportunity to meet them face-to-face.
If you are uncomfortable with a sales person at your door, practice a polite refusal. For instance, “I know you are working hard, but I do not do business at my front door. Thank you for understanding.” Then, smile and close the door.