Anyone knocking on your door to sell you something needs a permit.

“Everybody needs a permit – even Girl Scouts,” Atlanta police Maj. Van Hobbs said. “Any door-to-door solicitation must be permitted through the city.”

Major Van Hobbs

Hobbs, who works in the Atlanta Police Department’s Zone 2, which covers Buckhead, said any homeowner suspicious of a person on the property or in the neighborhood should call police. Officers in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Brookhaven agree.

Recently, homeowners in Buckhead and Brookhaven have expressed concerns publicly about salespeople knocking on doors.

Some believed a group that presented themselves as magazine sales representatives were, in fact, crooks who were trying to case homes for potential burglaries. One Buckhead resident said a purported salesperson stood on her doorstep for 10 minutes trying to get into her home and wouldn’t leave when asked.

Hobbs said suspicious homeowners should call 911 to ask for police help when dealing with strange solicitors. “We’ll come out and check and investigate and then tell them to move on,” Hobbs said.

Permits usually are not required for charitable or political groups, police said. Sandy Springs’ City Code says the requirement for permits also does not apply to officers or employees of the city, county, state, or federal government who are on official business.
A person convicted of soliciting without a permit in Sandy Springs faces a $1,000 fine, up to six months in jail or “confinement at labor” for up to 30 days.

In Sandy Springs, two people were arrested in 2015 for soliciting without a permit, one in January and one in March. One went to jail and the other was given a ticket. Dunwoody officers arrested three people through October for soliciting without a permit.

In Brookhaven, “normally, solicitors are identified and given either a verbal or written warning,” Brookhaven Officer Carlos Nino said. “If we encounter them a second time then the officer may use discretion and cite them and book them at the DeKalb County Jail.”

Police say that, for the most part, posting “no soliciting” signs around a neighborhood doesn’t help all that much, as long as the solicitor has a permit.

“We have no stats on how effective ‘no solicitation’ signs are,” said Sgt. Ron Momon, spokesman for Sandy Springs.

“If they have a valid permit, the ‘no solicitation’ signs don’t apply. They are not bound by the signs as long as they have a valid city permit. They would not be in violation and therefore not cited.”

Cpl. Tom Martin, Major Donald Chase, Chief Gary Yandura and Detective Jeffery Gant update a neighborhood watch group Sept. 2 about crime in their area.

Brookhaven residents called a neighborhood meeting in September because they feared magazine salespeople were covering for thieves.
But Brookhaven Det. Jeffery Gant, who attended the meeting, said he investigated and found no connection.

“Burglars have a pretty efficient method of operation,” Gant said. “That’s why they occur so often all over the United States.

Recruiting another individual to dress up in nice clothes and pretend to sell magazines just isn’t necessary to carry out a burglary that only takes about two to four minutes.”