Monday, 06 February 2017 18:55

Door to door Peddling/Soliciting in Fox Run

Door-to-door Peddling/Soliciting in Fox Run 

The Hidden but Very Real Danger and What We Can Do About It

By Charles Gruber, Fox Run resident since 2007

 

Introduction

Door to door "Soliciting" is discouraged in the Fox Run neighborhood. What this means can sometimes be confusing. This article will attempt to explain what is discouraged, why, and how this policy is actively implemented. Lastly, I will explain how you can help keep our neighborhood safe.

What is soliciting and is it allowed?

 

The City of San Antonio ("COSA") has the legal authority to regulate the type of solicitation activity we are talking about. The City of San Antonio's municipal code (ARTICLE IX. - PEDDLERS, HAWKERS, CANVASSERS; SOLICITORS) defines things this way:

Sec. 16-226. - Definitions.

Canvasser. The term "canvasser" includes "solicitor" and any person who makes retail sales for future delivery of tangible property from house to house or in any public place, whether or not payment is collected at the time of such sale, and such sales are taxable transactions under the provisions of the limited sales, excise and use tax of the state.

 

Peddler shall include the term "hawker" and shall mean any person who makes retail sales of tangible property from house to house or in any public place, and such sales are not made from an established place and delivery is made at the time of sale, whether or not payment is collected at the time of such sale.

While this type of activity is technically permitted, we as residents of Fox Run are concerned about our physical safety, the safety of our property and the safety of our pets. Due to the inherent danger involved, we do not support any door-to-door soliciting, canvassing, questioning, etc. The Fox Run Neighborhood Association ("FRNA") have taken the appropriate actions to discourage it.

Officer Dave McDonald with the San Antonio Police Department recently said:

"COSA has an ordinance whereby an individual can go door-to-door between the hours of 8am and 8pm for purposes of selling items, provided they obtain a peddler’s permit from the city. Please contact SAPD if they are soliciting outside of those hours. If the individual refuses to leave your front porch after you give them notice to leave, you may have a case for filing criminal trespass charges against that person. Please call SAPD to pursue that course of action. Additionally, COSA has an ordinance that covers the placing of handbills on your front door. If you have a “no soliciting” sign placed in a conspicuous place near or on your front door, individuals are prohibited from leaving handbills at your residence. The sign must be at least 3”x4” and the letters must be at least 2/3 of an inch in height. **HOWEVER, please remember that these ordinances do not apply to a department, branch, or agency of federal, state, or municipal government and any religious, political or charitable handbills. If you have any questions, you can call me at 207-6086, or contact your councilman’s chief advisor for constituent services."

THINK ABOUT HOW DANGEROUS IT IS OPENING YOUR DOOR TO A STRANGER!

People acting as door to door solicitors could be casing your home for a future burglary or engaging in a scam to rip you off. But one of the most serious threats is "home invasion".  A home invasion is a forceful entry to an occupied, private dwelling with intent to commit a violent crime against the occupants, such as robbery, assault, rape, murder, or kidnapping.

The act of committing a home invasion is escalating. Traditional commercial targets for robbers such as convenience stores and fast food restaurants have hardened themselves against criminal attack and have reduced available cash. Technology has allowed commercial establishments to install affordable video surveillance systems, silent alarms, and other anti-crime deterrent devices.  A private residence, by comparison, is now a more attractive choice for criminals.

It was recently reported by a Fox Run resident that a solicitor asked her "do you have an alarm system?" Answering this or any question to a criminal posing as a solicitor gives them information they can use to victimize you!!!

Home invaders know that they won't likely have to overcome alarm systems when the home is occupied or be so worried about video cameras and silent alarms. Unlike robbing a retail store, home invaders expect privacy once inside your home and won’t have to deal with the police suddenly driving up or customers walking in. Once the offenders take control of a residence they can force the occupants to open safes, locate hidden valuables, supply keys to the family car, and PIN numbers to their ATM cards. Home invaders will try to increase their escape time by disabling/destroying/stealing phones and sometimes will leave their victims bound or incapacitated. It is not unheard of for robbers to load up the victim’s car with valuables and drive away without anyone in the neighborhood taking notice.

Fox Run Community Initiative

In past years residents have overwhelmingly communicated to the Fox Run Neighborhood Association (FRNA) that they do not want solicitors in our neighborhood. Based on this, the following FRNA initiatives were put into place:

  1. No soliciting signs were posted at each of the seven entrances to the Fox Run Neighborhood. More information can be found here: http://foxruncommunity.com/index.php/crime/9-fox-run-entrance-exits. While not enforceable, it sends solicitors a message that we do not want them here.
  2. Residents have been encouraged to put up individual no soliciting signs on their homes. These signs ARE enforceable. There are attractive/friendly sign options available.
  3. FRNA has established an ongoing relationship with our neighborhood SAFFE officer and SAPD and communicated their contact information in multiple ways
  4. Neighbors are encouraged to report suspicious activity/solicitors through the Nextdoor website
  5. FRNA participates every year in the National Night Out Event

Some residents do not support these ideas as they find them to be "unfriendly". I sincerely ask that each one of you weight the risk of crime against your desire for friendly appearances. Other of our residents just simply ignore this community initiative for other reasons. Again, that's your right.

Help Our Community Fight Crime

  1. Get a "NO SOLICITATION" sign for your house and post it prominently. According to Officer McDonald:
    1. "Neighborhoods on public streets need a sign at each residence to enforce the COSA peddler ordinance (through a complaint made by that resident)."
  2. Don't engage with solicitors nor anyone not invited to your door, AT ALL. If someone you don't know comes to your door, make them aware that someone is home by asking/ordering them to leave. That is all. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. If you are interested in the product or service they may be selling, there are other ways to find it. NEVER FEEL OBLIGATED TO OPEN YOUR DOOR TO A STRANGER. Regardless, they cannot hang around on your porch after they have been asked to leave. According to Officer McDonald:
  3. If they do not leave immediately after being requested, call 9-1-1
  4. Pass on the solicitation attempt to our neighborhood SAFFE officer and let follow residents know via the next door neighborhood website.
    1. Individuals do not need a permit to go door-to-door to provide information verbally. They do, however, need your permission to remain on your front porch. If they refuse to retreat to the sidewalk (or street), please call SAPD; this situation goes beyond the COSA ordinance and enters the area of criminal trespass under Texas state law.
  1. If you do choose to engage with strangers going door-to-door (this is not preferred), it is perfectly permissible to ask them for their permit number. In the City of San Antonio, door-to-door solicitors must have a permit.

Summary

Having strangers coming through our neighborhood and walking on to our property is bad for our overall safety. Opening your door for someone you don't know is an even bigger danger. While soliciting is somewhat allowed by city ordinance, there are things we can do to protect our personal safety. One of the biggest things we can do is encourage solicitors to stay away from Fox Run. We have no soliciting signs posted at every entrance to Fox Run. You can further protect yourselves and other by posting no soliciting signs on your home. If they refuse to leave when asked, call the police. Otherwise, please report solicitors on the Nextdoor Site and or to our SAFFE officer. Let's not be victims!