Warnings issued about alleged door-to-door 'sales people'

SEATTLE -- Warnings have been issued about aggressive door-to-door "sales people" in West Seattle, where there have reports of fights with homeowners and possible break-ins.

Police said the so-called solicitors come to your doorstep with any number of reasons for being there, selling magazines for charity, or for their school, or a trip or an athletic team, even for a church.

Maybe they really are selling magazines; maybe they're not.

"It could be a guy casing houses, could be testing to see if people are home, trying to burglarize, do a home invasion robbery, any number of things,” Seattle police detective Jeff Kappel said.

It happened last Friday afternoon in West Seattle near the corner of 45th Ave. SW and Admiral Way.

The suspect reportedly knocked and rang doorbells at numerous houses in the neighborhood, staying on some porches as long as five minutes when there was no answer.

"I just had this creepy feeling and said to my husband, 'I think he's casing our house,'” neighbor Sarah Dillard said.

He stopped by Martin and Sarah Dillard's house. They spoke for a few minutes, the Dillards told him they weren’t interested and the man walked away. But Sarah still felt uneasy.

"As the guy was walking away, he looked in the back of our car," she said.

One of their neighbors wasn't so lucky.

Police said that just around the corner, the same man tried to force his way into a home.

"When she realized this was weird, guy is acting really strange, tries to close the door and the guy basically puts his foot in the door and puts his hand in to try to prevent the door from being closed,” Kappel said.

But the woman was able to force the man out and called 911.

Police found the man two blocks away and arrested him for trespassing.

Police recommend not confronting anyone on the street, and when at home always make sure doors and windows are locked and if necessary talk through the door rather than open it.

"If you're in any way concerned about other people in the house, kids, babies, yourself, don't answer the door. Make sure it's locked and if the person doesn't go away call 911,” Kappel said.

Police said the man they arrested last weekend did not appear to be a real magazine salesman.

He was 20 years old and had only a California I.D. card.

He was arrested for trespassing, but police still don’t know for sure what he was up to so they urge everyone to be ever vigilant.