Police: Door-to-Door Solicitors Invade Los Gatos, Monte Sereno

Recent rise in daytime residential burglaries cannot be conclusively related to the solicitors, police said.

The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department has issued a press release warning residents about an increase in door-to-door solicitors in local neighborhoods.

Since early January 2013, the department said it has responded to more than 77 calls for service regarding unwanted solicitors in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno.

When contacted by police, most solicitors are identified as being part of several out-of-state magazine soliciting companies, which are doing business using the names of "Open Hands," "Helping Hands," "Graceful Hands," and "Opportunity Sales," police said.

Both Los Gatos and Monte Sereno require soliciting companies to obtain a permit to solicit, police explained.

When contacted, solicitors have informed officers that their managers drop them off in neighborhoods to conduct door-to-door sales and then are picked up at the end of the day.

Usually they stay in area motels and repeat the process the next day, police added.

The manager of a group from "Opportunity Sales," of Ohio, told officers that she is in the South Bay Area with 180 solicitors that are canvassing neighborhoods.

"While specific criminal conduct has not been linked to these groups or their members, and a recent rise in daytime residential burglaries cannot be conclusively related to the solicitors, there have in the past been incidents of crime committed by solicitors," Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Chief Scott Seaman said in a written statement.

In September of 2011, Los Gatos Patch reported about the same problem affecting local neighborhoods.

A New York Times article, "For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews," detailed the widespread problems with these itinerant sellers and violent crimes involving the sales crews.

According to the article, the industry remains almost entirely unregulated, and on any given day, there are probably about 2,500 people, typically ages 18-24, selling magazines door-to-door. Often, the operations are bogus, meaning you pay money and never receive a single issue.

The article, along with the seasonal proliferation of magazine solicitors around town neighborhoods, serves as an important reminder of how residents must be ever vigilant in protecting their families and homes, according to police.

Any door-to-door salesperson is required by law to display a permit issued by the town of Los Gatos, police said at the time. If a solicitor does not have a permit or appears in any way suspicious, residents are advised to call police. If a solicitor leaves before police arrive, watch to see if the person gets in a car, and write down the license plate number, police said.

The department urged the public to call police to report any suspicious people, vehicles or activity taking place in their neighborhoods.

Residents may call 911, or 408-354-8600 to report such activity.

Sheila Sanchez February 19, 2013 at 08:32 PM
From reader/user Marily Hart: "Last Sunday, a scruffy 20 year old male was found INSIDE my neighbors’ compound, which has an electric gate and security cameras. The neighbor yelled at him and told him to get the ---- off his property. Two Sheriffs responded to his call and found the fellow roaming around toward my property, at the end of the road. He told the Sherriff that he was a SOLICITOR! They picked him up and took him downtown, what ever that means! Now this is in an isolated, mountain top area on a private road, not a TYPICAL NEIHBORHOOD! Beware and look alive! Marily Hart
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz February 19, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Unfortunately Solicitors ignore those signs! But I never open to door to any stranger! Ever since I watched that Flic' "Clockwork Orange"! I had a experience once when someone knocked at my parents door. And I open the window to ask what they wanted. The had just got into a accident & were asking me if they could come in to use the phone. (Back then their were no cell phones). I told them that I had already called the Police & that they were on their way....
Peace February 19, 2013 at 09:24 PM
When out for a run on Saturday, on a street off on Winchester in La Rinconada area, there were three hispanic kids sitting and standing on a curb each holding a green box, they were young ages about 11-16. They looked sad and dejected, and when I passed the girl stepped out and asked if I would buy their chocolate bars "because they were poor." I kept running and said I had no money with me which is true. Is it legal to drop off young kids to sell stuff for an organization, they were way too young to drive so must have been dropped off.? I guess I should have reported it, now I know to next time to do so.
Jeanne Rajabzadeh February 19, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Do not open your door-ever. I open a window or yell through the door, not interested!
KMD February 20, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Look out lemonade stands, Boy Scout popcorn sales, Girl Scout cookie sales, and school cookie dough fundraisers too! You all better be displaying your town permits when you knock on our doors. The things we worry about in Lost Gatos.. hahaha


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