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Anyone have a similar experience?

Posted by Suzanne D. on 6/17/04 at 12:54 (153303)

About a half hour ago, the doorbell rang, and I could see through the very small window in our door a young man who looked much like a friend of ours who my husband was expecting to come go bike riding. I thought it was him and opened the door - only to realize I didn't know the young man standing there. He said, 'Hello! I'm from (and then mumbled quickly somehting I couldn't understand). Can I start out by giving you this roll of paper towels?'

It felt strange, and I felt uneasy, so I quickly asked, 'What company did you say you were from?'

He said, 'S&S Enterprises'.

I'm usually not rude to anyone, but I said, 'I'm really very busy now, so you'll have to go,' and shut the door - but not before I saw his disgusted look.

I finally got the number for the Better Business Bureau from directory service (I was surprised it wasn't in the phone book). I got an automated message with several choices - punch this number to hear this, etc., but could never speak to a real person.

My husband came home, and I was standing out talking to he and our friend a few minutes later and saw the same unmarked, green van going back down the road. My husband and our friend jumped in our van and followed them and got their license number - an Ohio plate. My husband called the sheriff's office, but they had received no similar complaints. I don't know what the young man wanted to sell, but he had no business card or brochure, and the van was unmarked, so it seemed suspicious to me.

Anyone have a similar experience? I have always heard, 'Contact the Better Business Bureau', but that didn't seem to give any immediate help.

Thanks for 'listening',
Suzanne :)

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Necee on 6/17/04 at 15:35 (153315)

That does sound suspecious Suzanne. His 'paper towel trick' could have been a way of getting you to unlock the door so he could rush in on you. My dad was a police officer, and he told us lots of situations like yours. These people often go so small towns, where folks are more trusting, they push their way in when the door is unlocked, and would often rob the homeowners. Thank goodness you went with your gut feeling, and didn't allow this man to preceed any further. For him being in an unmarked vehicle, with no business card, or contact number is very suspecious.

My dad would tell us burglars often use any excuse to knock on the door, when nobody answers, they break in.
I remember one incident where this lady unlocked the door for a man selling something, she was less fortunate than you Suzanne, he robbed and hurt her.

Your experience with this solicitor could have been an innocent one....but these days, you just never know.

Necee

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Dorothy on 6/17/04 at 16:12 (153321)

I think it sounds like you handled it very smartly - except possibly opening the door. Do you have something between you and the person at the door, even if the door is partially open?
I am always amazed that people think they have to be polite to anyone who decides to come knocking at their door. Too many people have had terrible things done to them because they opened the door or the house to someone who had a sob story and needed to use a phone or had something to sell or needed directions, etc. It's too bad that this is the reality, but this is the reality. If I am not sure of who the person is and why they are at my door, I would not hesitate to speak to them THROUGH the door with a cell phone in hand and the finger on the emergency number and maybe other enhancements.
We get inebriated college students on our porch late at night with enough regularity, but it's always alarming. Sometimes they can be belligerent. Sometimes they are just way out of line. Sometimes they leave things on the porch that they will miss the next day. Fortunately my husband and other members of the household make a good 'front line'.
It's kind of unsettling when it happens, isn't it? Even if it is completely innocuous, you realize your vulnerabilities - and maybe that's a good reminder now and then so you can tighten up your home security!

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Suzanne D. on 6/17/04 at 17:43 (153336)

Thanks, Necee and Dorothy for your comments. I did feel rather foolish afterwards for even opening the door at all. I really did think from my quick glance that it was our friend who we were expecting. I had the door open before I realized. I will look more closely next time! And, no, there is nothing on the other side of the door. So I will be more cautious from now on. Yes, Necee, we are in one of those rural areas where people are more unsuspecting, and unfortunately, people see us as more gullible. With my husband being a minister, we also get a lot of calls and people stop by seeking his help. It makes for a tricky situation to be both careful and helpful at the same time.

Suzanne :)

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Angela A. on 6/17/04 at 21:53 (153348)

It sounds like the Kirby Vacuum salesperson I had at my door several years ago. Although he had a jug of laundry degergent in his hand as my 'gift' for letting him show me his vacuum. Said it was only going to take 30 minutes and 2 1/2 hours later he was still there. Then when we asked him to LEAVE because we were not interested, he got an attitude!!!
I hate when sales people show up at your door, then get MAD when you won't buy their product! I NEVER ASKED THEM TO COME IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Kathy G on 6/18/04 at 09:45 (153378)

Suzanne,

You were correct to follow your instincts. I can understand why you opened the door if you thought it was the fellow your husband was expecting. This summer, I've had three people come to my door with so-called identification badges, selling magazines or something, for a 'contest.' They are always on foot and college-aged. The last one was a rather unsavory type and I was a bit apprehensive but I deadbolted the door, as I always do, when he left and I watched him walk up the street. It never occurred to me until hours later that I should have called the police! Duh! We have a storm door and I always wedge my foot in it but I could be overtaken even if I'm on my guard if it's a sranger who comes to the door. Your story makes me realize I should be more careful.

In my case, I don't live in a remote area but I always used to say I was the 'neighborhood' since I was the only mother who didn't work when the children were little. I was the mother who all the neighborhood kids came to if they had a problem. Now they're all grown or moved and I'm the only person who doesn't work. There's almost no one at home during the day and the ones who are, live quite far away from me. Until now, I didn't even think about how isolated I am. I shall be more careful.

Thanks for sharing your strange story as it will make me a bit more aware. I guess he was trying some kind of diversionary tactic with the paper towel but I can't imagine what it was.

It's not a sign of the times, though. Many years ago, my aunt, who lived in a populated area in a small city, chatted with a woman who was selling baskets from door to door. While she was talking, unbeknownst to her, others who were traveling with the woman, entered the backdoor of her home and stole many artifacts and some money that was on the kitchen counter. She called the police and found out that a group of traveling 'gypsies' had struck the area and were doing the same thing in many neighborhoods. I remember the basket well. She gave it to my mother and told her it was the most expensive gift she'd ever given her!#-o

I'm glad you didn't have a similar experience!

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

john h on 6/18/04 at 10:39 (153390)

About 10 years ago we had a series of persons knocking on doors. Then pushing in and taping up the owners and taking what ever they wanted. During this period on a Sunday night I had someone knock on the door. I looked through the peep hole to see a tough looking guy. I asked what he wanted and he said had fallen and had a bad injury. I then walked a few paces into my living room to look through a window to get a better view of him. To my chagrin I looked through the window to find him up against it starring back at me! He shouted he was in serious medical trouble and needed help. I had no weapons and myself,wife and daughter were inside. He could have kicked the door open. I moved away from the window and called 911, He shouted again he was hurting and I told him not to worry the police and an ambulance was on the way. A moment later I heard a car pull up rapidly with brakes squelling. I looked out the window in time to see him jump in and speed away with his partner. Less than 3 minutes later the police arrived with guns drawn. They did not catch them. The next day I purchased a police special .38 revolver and a Glock 9mm. 7-8 years ago I and Mary arrived home on a Sunday about 7pm. It was winter and still dark. A car was backed into my driveway which looked like my daugters. I pulled into the driveway side by side to find my self looking at a guy with a red bandanna on his head only about 3' away. I was sure he had a gun leveled at me below the door level. He did no blink. I did. I could see two men though the window of my home. I slammed into reverse and moved out smartly while calling 911, The intruder honked his horn to alert his buddies and pulled out heading down my street which is a dead end. I decided to head his way (not real smart). I met him comming back with lights out and he quickly sped past my home. His buddies apparently exited the back and through the woods. The police arrived and I found a lot of my electronics piled up on the den floor. They got nothing except all my keys which were hanging on a rack in the living room. What would have happened if I had walked in and the guy had not been out front?. You can bet they were armed. Traveling to Florida a few years ago (had my Glock). Midday I pulled up to a stoplight in Shreveport, La. An ugly looking man ran from the curb and tried to open the door on my wife's side. Fortunately it was locked. I realize there are a lot of anti gun people out there and I respect your position but my position is that I am prepared to defend my home and family.

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Dorothy on 6/18/04 at 12:19 (153406)

Your experiences are very frightening and disturbing just to read about; I can only imagine what it must have been like to go through them.

Some years ago we were moving and were packing boxes in the living room.
My husband and I were both in the living room which was very close to the kitchen. There was a small back porch off the kitchen. I want to emphasize that we were very close to the kitchen and there was no unusual noise in the house. My purse was in the kitchen. Someone broke into the house through the kitchen, stole my purse and left - and we never knew anything had happened. My purse was found in a trash container a few days later several blocks away. I mean, does every house have a crook assigned to it, just waiting for the 'opportunity'?? It always just amazed that this happened just in the next room from us - and we didn't know.
This is nothing like what you experienced, John - and I am glad that you and your family were not hurt.

In light of recent discussions here, I'm thinkin': a snake 'chained' to each door - and maybe a crocodile, for good measure.

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Dorothy on 6/18/04 at 12:27 (153409)

When I was a very young child, my mother was ironing in our kitchen. An intruder - always described by my mother as a 'hobo' - broke into the kitchen whereupon my mother hit him with the hot iron - and he took off.

Maybe I'll start carrying a hot iron...

Actually, as I think of her doing that, I miss my mother...she was brave in many ways.

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Suzanne D. on 6/18/04 at 16:09 (153428)

2 and 1/2 hours was a long time for you to have to deal with that salesperson! I agree - we didn't ask them to come, so there's no reason for them to get huffy when we don't buy something. I think that's part of their whole plan - they want us to feel guilty so we'll buy from them.

Suzanne :)

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Suzanne D. on 6/18/04 at 16:14 (153431)

What scarey situations, John! Thank goodness you are always able to use your head and think quickly! Thankfully, no one in your family was hurt in either situation.

I've told both my daughters to always drive with all their doors locked. I try to do the same. Cell phones help ease my mind somewhat when they drive away. My older daughter was coming home from college one weekend a couple of years ago and had called me using her cell phone. All of a sudden she stopped mid-sentence and blurted out, 'Oh, my gosh!'. My heart almost stopped, and it seemed forever before she said anything else. She had rounded a curve to find several deer in the middle of the road. Thankfully, she avoided hitting any of them.

Suzanne :)

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Suzanne D. on 6/18/04 at 16:16 (153432)

How frightening, Dorothy! Thank goodness the intruder didn't come in any further and try to do you or your husband harm. But how awful to get your purse. A parent of one of my students stole my billfold a few years ago. It is a disturbing happening, I know.

Suzanne :)

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Suzanne D. on 6/18/04 at 16:17 (153433)

Now THAT was using her head!

Suzanne :)

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

Suzanne D. on 6/18/04 at 16:24 (153434)

Make that 'scary', not 'scarey'. School's out, and my brain's on vacation!

Suzanne :)

Re: Gun Protectoin

Necee on 6/19/04 at 00:50 (153475)

John your stories gave me chills. Thank goodness you used your head in those situations, and were unharmed.
We have guns in our home as well, and they are there strictly for protection. I was taught at a very early age about gun safety, and have been around guns all my life. I feel much more comfortable knowing that I have a gun to protect myself.

Several years ago I went to the grocery store alone, it was during the daytime, and as I was getting in my car a man suddenly approached, acting very suspecious and getting closer to me than I thought a stranger should.
He said, 'Don't I know you, then made a quick move for the door handle of my car, I was in the drivers seat by that time, and reached for my pistol which was right under me, I pointed it at him and told him to back off.
I reacted so quickly that it must have thrown him off guard, he fled on foot, and was never found. I shudder to think what would have happened if I didn't have that pistol with me, I was completely vulnerable until I got my hands on that weapon....my protection.

Necee

Re: Gun Protectoin

Suzanne D. on 6/19/04 at 13:13 (153502)

Thank goodness you were protected and had the good sense to act quickly! Another example to show us how careful we must be at all times.

Suzanne :)

Re: Anyone have a similar experience?

JudyS on 6/19/04 at 18:38 (153521)

wow you guys - everyone has a story! But me. Thank goodness for that but......I've often wondered...

We live in an odd area not suburban and not rural. But we're off the main road and, like our four neighbors, are on an acre of land. My house is always so wide open during the day - when I'm home alone - that I do wonder just how I could defend myself if some nefarious person wandered up the lane with bad intentions.

I tend to hope that I could use my wits if I had to but I know karn well that most men are far stronger than my wits.