ClawsonAugust 6, 2012
Solicitors lie their way to crime through magazine sales
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
CLAWSON — Police are warning residents to be wary of unregistered solicitors after two men posed as residents selling magazine subscriptions for the Detroit-based Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
Two men, ages 18 and 20, were approaching older women July 31 with similar stories when some residents got suspicious and called police. Officers responded to the area of Wilson and Grant on the east side of town at about 6 p.m.
“Our guys got there and found an individual, a guy that was 18 years old and out talking to a couple older female residents,” Police Chief Harry Anderson said. “An investigation revealed he had said he was selling magazines for the Children’s Hospital in Detroit.”
The man had been telling women he was a Clawson resident and Michigan State University student, neither of which was true. He had a Mississippi driver’s license and Cash Award Precision Sales identification badge that said his sales would not benefit schools or hospitals.
“He didn’t register with the city, which is required by ordinance,” Anderson said.
The man was cited and released at the scene.
Anderson said solicitors are required to register with the city so police can fingerprint them and do a quick background check for past criminal activity.
There were two known residents who were victim of the teenager’s soliciting July 31, but a third came to the station Aug. 1 after discovering a separate man with a similar story had robbed her the previous day.
“He told the resident at that time that he lived on Park Street in Clawson and was a war veteran,” Anderson said. “He said his foot was hurting at the time and she let him in to sit down. She left the room to write a check for him.”
The second suspect was described as a 20-year-old man with a “bum” foot, limping with assistance from a cane. While sitting in the resident’s living room, he took cash out of her purse while she was writing a check in the other room. He had also said he was a Clawson resident and MSU student, which he wasn’t.
“It sounds like we had two different guys. These guys can be anyone coming in,” Anderson said. “They had told a sob story and said they were fellow Clawson residents, which they weren’t.”
As of Aug. 3, police only knew of the three victims, but did not rule out the possibility of others. Anderson advised residents who purchased the magazine subscriptions to cancel their checks since the money is not likely going to the Children’s Hospital.
“The first thing, people should not let strangers into their home and to check and make sure they’re registered with the city,” Anderson said. “People try to take advantage of (those who think they’re doing a good deed).”
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