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SPD advice on dealing with door-to-door solicitors

June 15th, 2011 by Doree

As the days get longer and the weather gets better, it seems like more and more door-to-door salesmen and information peddlers ring the doorbell just as you’re sitting down to dinner. Terrie Johnston, Seattle Police Department’s Crime Prevention Coordinator for the North Precinct, has shared some tips on dealing with solicitors and how to know if they’re legitimate.

This is the peak time of year for door-to-door sales, including those using traveling sales crews. There are many legitimate companies in this industry with professionally trained salespeople, selling between the hours of 8:00am and 9:00pm, and a long history of law-abiding customer service. There are, however, less reputable companies in this business willing to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals who trust people knocking at their door. Sometimes residents forget to practice good personal safety.

Seattle Police officers respond to calls from citizens concerned about door-to-door salespeople. The results have ranged from the officers checking identification and sending the seller to the City of Seattle Revenue & Consumer Affairs office for their business license, to arrests of individuals posing as residential sellers, but wanted on warrants. There have also been arrests for aggressive behavior, threats made against the resident, burglaries, and assaults.

Homeowners may consider posting a sign indicating “No agents,” “No peddlers,” or “No Solicitors.” In Seattle, it is unlawful for any residential seller to attempt to gain admittance for the purpose of selling at any residence displaying one of these signs.

With these facts in mind, what should you do when a person knocks at your door?

BEFORE OPENING YOUR DOOR: LOOK FOR PROPER IDENTIFICATION. Acknowledge the knock since ignoring it may lead to an attempted burglary. It is preferable to speak to strangers through your door. In Seattle, all door-to-door sellers must display the residential sales identification online pharmacy cialis which includes the seller’s photograph on their outer clothing. The residential sales agent’s license has the name of the licensee as well as the agent. It shall be endorsed with the type of product or service being sold. The license is only valid for the product or service specified. If you have any questions about whether a company is properly licensed, call the City of Seattle’s Office of Revenue & Consumer Affairs at 206-684-8136.

DISCLOSURE REQUIRED: Each residential seller shall, immediately upon contacting the prospective buyer, disclose their name, company and the product or service represented. If requested to do so, they shall leave the premises immediately. If the individual does not leave, or if an attempt to gain access is made by asking to use the bathroom, the phone or get a drink of water, refuse the request and ask the individual to leave. If you feel intimidated, pressured, or threatened at any time, call 911.

USE GOOD JUDGEMENT: It is safer not to allow the salesperson into your home. You are encouraged to avoid paying immediately. Do not give the salesperson cash or a check, as it may be pocketed and you will never receive the product ordered. Instead, find out from the seller how you can order directly from the company or receive the bill upon receipt of the product/service. If the salesperson is concerned about losing their commission for the sale, offer to provide their name when placing your order.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: In Seattle, if you make a purchase, the salesperson must tell you of your right to cancel the order and the contract must include a statement regarding the right to cancel. For each sale of ten dollars or more, the seller must provide a receipt or contract to the purchaser. Do not leave any blanks on your contract. Be sure the contract or receipt is dated and that it states the terms of the transaction, the amount of payment made and the name and address of the residential seller. It must also include a notice informing the buyer of their right to cancel the order any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of the transaction. A completed Notice of Cancellation (in duplicate) must be provided to the purchaser at the time they purchase from the seller. You do not need to provide a reason for canceling your order.

DO NOT GIVE IN TO HIGH PRESSURE TACTICS: Never be afraid to say “NO!” If a salesperson in your home tries to pressure you into buying their product, terminate your conversation with them. Take the time to contact the company directly if you still have interest in the product or service. Avoid making an immediate purchase in order to receive a “free gift.” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Seattle Police now has four Crime Prevention Coordinators, geographic boundaries change

April 22nd, 2011 by Doree

Last October we told you about the Seattle Police Department’s plan to eliminate three of its Crime Prevention Coordinators, because of budget cuts. Now, SPD has announced that the geographic boundaries for the four remaining CPCs have changed.

For Queen Anne, part of the West Precinct, this means a changing of the guard. Terrie Johnston, who has previously been our go-to crime prevention coordinator, is now the CPC for the North Precinct, while Fran Tello is now the CPC for our district.

The CPCs work in the precincts to educate individuals on ways to reduce their risk of becoming victims, and act as liaisons between the local community and the police.

Although these changes will undoubtedly be felt by everyone, the Seattle Police generic viagra Department will continue to strengthen links with all community members and associations through open communications, mutual responsibility, and a commitment to customer service.

You can reach Crime Prevention Coordinator Fran Tello at (206) 684-4730 or francisco.tello@seattle.gov.

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Four cars stolen in Queen Anne last week

March 29th, 2011 by Thea

Yesterday we received this note from Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention officer Terrie Johnston. She reviews the police incident reports on a daily basis, and while doing so noticed an alarming trend over the last week in our area:

Today upon reviewing the reported crime for Queen Anne and Magnolia, I noticed that in the past 7 days there were three vehicles stolen from Magnolia (Volvo SW; Toyota Highlander and an Acura Integra) and 4 vehicles stolen from Queen Anne (2 Subaru Legacys; KIA Rio; and a BMW).  This is in addition to a theft of a license plate on Queen Anne, and several car prowls.  I found that number of incidents to be abnormally high.  I phoned the Auto Theft Sergeant and he said  the number of Auto Thefts in Seattle are down, and have been decreasing steadily.  In fact, we are at nearly 1/3 of the number of Auto Thefts which occurred in 2005.  However, we agreed that there are some simple things we can do to try and prevent becoming a victim of auto theft.

This sergeant reports that he uses a steering wheel locking device on every car he owns, and he uses the device, every time he parks his car.  These devices act as a good visual deterrent.  They are just one more thing the thief has to disable in an attempt to steal the vehicle. There are also a variety of locking metal devices that can disable everything from your gearshift, gas pedal, brake pedal, hood, tires, etc.

Johnston also suggests a few other tips for keeping your cars safe from prowls and thefts. “If you have a garage, use it. Park your car in there!” she writes. “Keep the garage and any other doors leading into the garage locked, and keep car doors locked inside the garage.”

According to Johnston, two-thirds of all auto thefts occur at night. Because of this, installing motion-sensitive lighting around car ports, driveways, parking areas and alleyways may help deter thieves from targeting those cars. She also recommends that residents leave their front porch lights on from dusk until dawn.

Cars are often stolen for their parts (including airbags). It can take an expert thief as little as seven seconds and one screwdriver to break into a vehicle, and less than one minute to drive away.  Please be vigilant for strangers on your block, trying door handles, looking into vehicles.  You can call 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity.

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Queen Anne block watch assists in burglar arrest

March 23rd, 2011 by Thea

One of the block watch groups here in Queen Anne, alongside a number of neighbors, aided police in the arrest of a burglar on Tuesday morning. From Seattle Police Department crime prevention officer Terrie Johnston:

This Tuesday morning, around 10 a.m. a woman on W. Comstock heard the sound of breaking glass nearby. She then saw a white male, in his 40’s running towards her. She attempted to talk w/the man, but he assured her all was fine and he got into a van and drove off. The witness was able to get a license plate and 9-1-1 was called. Many patrol units responded to the area.  About 20 mins. later a West Precinct supervisor found the abandoned van on 4th Ave. N. on the northern slope of Queen Anne hill. He ordered the van impounded. Astute block watchers on 4th Ave. N. called in suspicious activity and reported to 9-1-1 that the suspect got into an orange cab. West Precinct Burglary Theft Detectives monitoring the police radio recognized the description of this prolific criminal. They called the cab company and learned the suspect had been dropped in Belltown. Det. Owing and Det. Gaedcke found and arrested the burglar in Belltown shortly thereafter.

So many thanks to the witnesses who provided us w/suspect & vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers, and the information on the taxi cab. This was a great team effort between the community, patrol and the outstanding detectives!

As it turns out, Det. Owing is investigating some commercial burglaries that may now be solved with this arrest.

PS:  The breaking glass mentioned above was from the suspect’s attempt to break out a 4’ x4’ double-paned, aluminum-framed basement window. Because there was so much glass involved, it most likely deterred this burglar from entering the home. Call me to schedule a free home security assessment of your home, or to start/re-kindle your Block Watch. I can make recommendations on window treatments and security films that can make your glass stronger.

This is good work!!

For more information on other measures you can take to protect your home against residential burglaries, take a look at these tips from SPD.

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December crime/burglary update for Queen Anne

December 20th, 2010 by Thea

The Seattle Police Department’s west precinct may be losing its crime prevention coordinator come April 1, but until then Terrie Johnston is continuing with her monthly crime and burglary recaps for the community. Check our her full letter to the community regarding crime in Queen Anne this December here:

Hi, I wanted to share information I gleaned from residential burglaries reported this month of December.  It is not unusual to see slight increases in property crimes during the holidays. Why might this happen?  People are often scurrying about shopping, going to parties, etc.  and our social calendars can become fuller at year’s end.  That can mean we don’t pay full attention to security and safety.  Add to that, many people go out of town during the season; school is out; and there are gifts everywhere (in cars; under the tree; sitting on front porches).  You get the picture.  So let’s look at some of the significant points for December’s burglaries so far.

The majority of the burglaries still occured during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. A common method of entry was using something in the yard to gain access to the windows, i.e. a garbage can was turned upside down to reach a window; an outside stool was strategically placed under a window and used as stairs; the victim’s step-ladder was used to gain access to the 2nd floor balcony where the thieves entered through an unlocked sliding door.  In a few burglaries, entry was believed to have been made through the dog door.  Several entries were made through unlocked windows.  One victim went for a short run and left the front door unlocked and came home to a completed burglary. Thieves came into an unlocked  garage door and stole all the food from the freezer;  another victim reported that he fell asleep with his front door unlocked.  This allowed the crook(s) to enter, remove the vehicle’s remote from the ashtray on the table by the front door.  That car was then prowled.  In another burglary, a concealed side door was kicked in, shattering the door frame.  In one incident, the home owners returned mid-day and discovered the burglars in their home.

Here are some of the items reported stolen this month: 9 mm pistol; laptops, money, cameras; heavy stereo speakers; 42” flat screen TV; electronics, jewelry & sewing machine, and wrapped Christmas gifts.  It’s hard to imagine how some of those bigger items were removed unseen.  Was more than one thief involved?  Did they use a car?  A look out?  Please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 if on your block you see unknown people, with heavy backpacks or a stuffed pillow case (as was done in a burglary last week) acting suspiciously or unknown cars in your neighbor’s driveway when they are gone.  Trust your gut!

My tips: Use the locks and latches you have.  Be religious about locking up, even if you are only going to be away for a brief time.   Keep shrubbery pruned back so neighbors can see onto your property.  Get a house sitter if you will be away.  Start or rekindle your Block Watch so your neighbors can be invited to watch out for your home when you cannot be there.  Lock up or store out-of-sight any ladders, sawhorses, etc.  Close your blinds in the rooms where there are desirable electronics when you are away.   Do not hesitate to report anything suspicious to 9-1-1, even if it isn’t an emergency.  Call me if you would like a free home security survey conducted.  Thank you for sharing this information with your neighbors and Block Watch contacts.

For more information contact Terrie directly at the Seattle Police Crime Prevention number, 206-684-4741, or via email at Terrie.Johnston@seattle.gov.

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"Queen Anne Creeper" sentenced to jail

December 6th, 2010 by Gladys

Last summer we reported that a suspicious man was approaching women in the area and asking for directions to Magnolia and following up with lewd comments about those women. After the case was made public, many more women reported encounters with the man to police. It was determined that he was in a stolen car and police arrested the man. Today we got this update from Terrie Johnston at Seattle Police:

Through excellent work by patrol, relentless follow-up by Community Police Team Officer Erik Warner, and the statements by many of the victims, a case was built against Shigley-Muncey.  On Dec. 2nd, he was sentenced to nine months in jail, so with the credit for the viagra femele time he has served, he will be released in March, 2011.  The great news is that because he was convicted on stalking charges, he had to submit his DNA to the National Registry and he will undergo a full mental health evaluation.

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The Senior Asst. City Prosecutor, Kevin Kilpatrick wanted to send along a big thank you to all involved.  Most stalking cases tried in Municipal Court are Domestic Violence related.  The fact that these (21 in all) were strangers to Mr. Shigley-Muncey made this case extremely unusual.

My thanks to all of you who came forward and gave statements, vehicle descriptions and testimony.  All of your involvement helped to get a conviction!

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Queen Anne could lose crime prevention coordinator

June 30th, 2010 by Doug Alder

The people who work directly with our neighborhood in preventing crime could soon be out of a job.  The six civilian crime prevention coordinators for the Seattle Police Department, including West Precinct and Queen Anne coordinator Terrie Johnston, have been told they’ll lose their jobs next spring when grant money runs out.

The crime prevention coordinators work directly with residents doing everything from setting up block watches to going door to door to warn about recent crimes. They’ve been part of the police budget up until last October, when the positions then became paid for with federal grant money. That ends on March 31 of next year.

“We are the link between the community and the police department,” Terrie Johnston (pictured right) told us. “Patrol officers are often promoted or transfer out. We’re the ones in people’s living rooms and churches.”

Johnston and her fellow coordinators have logged hundreds of community meetings over the past year. She worries that officers and precinct bosses won’t be able to give residents one on one attention if the crime prevention coordinators are let go.

“When we’re gone, who will take the time?”

Councilmember Tim Burgess, who chairs the Public Safety and Education committee, tells us his office is closely tracking the issue as it heads toward the mayor and council. If you’d like to voice your opinions, here’s a link to the mayor and City Council.

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Update on QA crime: robbery suspect caught

September 17th, 2009 by Thea

We have good news from the Seattle Police Department regarding the string of recent robberies in Queen Anne and Magnolia. SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Terrie Johnston, who spoke with me on Tuesday as part of our crime prevention story, emailed me today with an update. She writes,

First I wanted to let you know that per the Robbery Detective assigned the most recent string of robberies; the suspects were identified and have been arrested.  This is good news for those Magnolians who were unnerved by the robbery which occurred on Magnolia Blvd. in the early morning hours last week.
I have also learned from some of your e-mails, that there have been sightings of suspicious persons walking around Magnolia in the late night, early morning hours looking into cars, paying close attention to homes.  When confronted by a block watcher, the group ran away.  This certainly warrants a 9-1-1 call.  Anyone trying door handles of parked cars, going up into the yards of homes, studying the contents of vehicles, though not illegal, is suspicious.  We need you to report suspicious activity to 9-1-1.  Try to get good descriptions of any cars that may be involved, and the direction headed. Many SPD Police Commanders live on Queen Anne and Magnolia, and even if you know them well enough to call them at home w/reports of neighborhood suspicions, the first number to call is 9-1-1 so a Queen Sector car can be dispatched.
Lastly, I wanted to say thank you to the Block Captains and Contacts who share the e-mails we send to you from the Crime Prevention office of SPD’s West Precinct.   I appreciate your efforts.

To schedule a free home security survey, or to get information about Queen Anne Block Watches or schedule a meeting, Johnston invites residents, individuals and businesses and organization to contact her directly at the West Precinct at (206) 684-4741 or terrie.johnston@seattle.gov.

Read the original story here.

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