Lock your doors to strangers

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By Carol A. Clark

A Los Alamos resident allowed a young man into his home to “use the bathroom” only to discover his wallet disappeared with the slick con artist. This is just one case in a growing number of reports local police are receiving from duped residents.
Strangers knocking on doors with mal intent, teams of magazine sellers, usually young and under the guise of “working for college tuition” and other con games have penetrated the town site and White Rock sporadically for several years. Police are concerned because more citizens are opening their doors to these virtual strangers, letting them into their homes and writing them checks. Small items sometimes turn up missing.
A purse was stolen in one case. And many times, the paid-for magazines never arrive.
“One thing we can do right away is an educational campaign for the residents to give them tools to deal with the situation,” Chief Wayne Torpy said. “We want to caution residents to not open their doors to people they do not know. We urge them to call 911 whenever they feel they are at risk. It’s also very important for parents to teach their children to not open the door or let strangers in the house.”
Capt. Randy Foster has been fielding these types of reports for a while and said it’s important for the public to understand that there is a solicitation ordinance in place in Los Alamos County. While it’s not against the law for salespeople to go door to door here, he said, it is against the law for them to con, or attempt to con residents living behind those doors.
“Residents can call us whenever unwanted solicitors come around and we can help them trespass solicitors from their residences,” Foster said. “If they come back or refuse to leave, we can take enforcement action. The same goes for residents who post ‘no solicitors’ signs prominently on their homes’ exterior. Solicitors that remain at the residence can be arrested for trespassing.”
Foster and Torpy spoke about the fact that police can only respond when made aware of unwanted solicitors. People often feel embarrassed for allowing themselves to be duped. The important thing is to report it as soon as possible, they said, action can be taken to prohibit the perpetrators from pulling similar cons on others.