February 8, 2011 > How to answer the door safely
How to answer the door safely
Submitted By Geneva Bosques, Fremont PD
To open or not... that is the question.
This week several neighborhood email groups have reported unwanted solicitors. Here are some tips on how to handle neighborhood soliciting.
The City of Fremont has a Commercial Solicitations and Peddlers Ordinance requiring a permit for commercial door to door sales and services. The Ordinance requires solicitors/peddlers to submit an application, photo, finger prints and successfully complete a background check prior to obtaining a permit from the City. Once approved, the City will issue the applicant an identification card, which shall contain the name, address, and telephone number of the permittee and his employer or the business entity he represents. It will also contain the expiration date of the permit.
The Ordinance requires a permittee to carry their permit with them at all times and show it upon request while soliciting. Non-profit organizations are exempt from the license requirement, but they too must still carry a letter that describes their activity from their club or organization. The municipal code, Chapter 4, sections 5-4100 - 5 - 4116 can be viewed on the City of Fremont website at www.codepublishing.com.
Follow these steps to learn how to deflect door-to-door solicitations:
If someone comes to your door with or without a permit, you are not obligated to engage in a conversation or open your door.
Call out or look through a peephole or window before opening your door to anyone.
Post a "No Solicitors" sign on your front door. If a solicitor arrives on your front step unannounced, yell through your firmly closed door, "read the sign."
If you feel that the solicitor is out of compliance with the City's Solicitation/Peddler Permit Ordinance and/or if you feel that the activity is suspicious, call the Fremont Police Department's non-emergency number at (510) 790-6800 and press option 3.
After you call the Police Department notify your neighbors through your local email group or via your Neighborhood Crime Watch Street Roster of the suspicious activity.
Never open your front door without care. There is no dishonor in an unopened door-even when the person on the other side reportedly represents a charity that helps unwanted puppies, undernourished kids or saves whales.
Burglars commonly ring the doorbell to see if anyone is home before breaking and entering. This is why it is important to let them know you are home. You can also leave a radio or TV on to give the appearance that someone is home.
Do not let anyone in your home that you do not know. It's much more difficult to rid yourself of them once they are inside; it's also potentially dangerous.
Only after you have verified the solicitors permit and feel that it is safe should you open your door.
Talk about these tips with your kids and make sure they never open a door to an unknown guest.
Many solicitors have good intentions and are not harmful, but unfortunately it's not always easy to spot con artists. They invade homes through the telephone, computer, and mail; advertise in well-known newspapers and magazines; and come right up to your front door. Most people think they're too smart to fall for a scam, but unfortunately the opposite can be true. Solicitors should be treated as uninvited guests and not allowed to bully their way into your home or pressure you into supporting their charities.
Remember your safety always comes first.