By Officer Larry Jacobs

Times have changed.

Remember the good old days when someone came to your door and explained, “Hi, I’m John Smith from Blah Blah High School and my football team is going to Miami for a tournament… .”  You get the idea.  You would have no problem giving John a check and wishing him and his team luck and never thought twice about being scammed.

It’s a shame, but it’s not like that anymore.

If you get that same line today, you need to think twice about giving this guy a check.  You also need to think, “Should I even open the door?”

Individuals who represent themselves as representatives of legitimate businesses are sometimes conducting fraudulent or potential criminal activity.

Here are some suggestions on how to handle the unwanted or unauthorized solicitor:

n  If you receive a knock on the door and an unfamiliar person is observed, you need to be very cautious about opening the door.  I suggest not to. And if the person is asking for help, tell them you will call the Sandy Springs police for them.

n  If you do receive a knock at the door, make sure you let whoever is on the other side know that someone is home.  Criminals use this trick to see if anyone is there.  If you don’t say anything, they will think the home is unoccupied and might try to break in.

n  If you don’t recognize the person and they are soliciting something, it is a good idea to call 911.  There is a good chance they are soliciting without a permit and equally good chance they are wanted somewhere for doing something illegal.

All businesses in Sandy Springs must have a permit to operate. This includes door-to-door solicitors.  It is not meant to regulate solicitation for charitable, political, or other nonprofit purposes, provided that all sales proceeds are the property of and used by the nonprofit organization.

Officer Larry Jacobs is the Crime Prevention Officer for the Sandy Springs Police Department.  He can be reached directly at ljacobs@sandyspringsga.gov.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.