Scammers, Solicitors at the Door: LMPD's Advice
A Lower Merion resident was recently victimized.
After reporting how two burglars conspired to steal jewelry from a Bala Cynwyd home while the resident fetched one of them a glass of water, Patch contacted the Lower Merion Police Department for advice to readers about how to deal with various scams.
When it comes to scammers, "everything in the world has been tried," Lt. Frank Higgins said.
In this incident July 24, police said, a man told the homeowner he was doing tree maintenance in an adjacent yard and needed to access her property. He also asked for and received a glass of water, during which time an accomplice sneaked upstairs and stole $500 worth of jewelry, police said.
Asked whether there were scenarios in which a contractor would knock on a resident's door unexpectedly, Higgins replied, "That's typically not reasonable. The only people that are going to show up unannounced would be in an emergency situation. PECO would probably be the No. 1, and they would have identification and all that."
Higgins suggested any resident suspicious of anyone who comes to the door and should call the police immediately. Some people might choose to put off the visitor at that point by announcing they're calling the police and others by saying they're just not interested, but Higgins said, "Typically, somebody involved in a scam like that doesn't want any type of confrontation with a homeowner. If you say, 'I'm calling the police,' usually it gets people getting in their car and driving away. You don't have to give it much more thought than that."
Higgins said he has not noticed an uptick in scam reports, but they have long been a fact of life. Scammers often prey on senior citizens, and not necessarily just in wealthier neighborhoods, Higgins said: "I don't think affluence is the sole factor because there are plenty of older people that keep cash and jewelry in the house."
Unauthorized door-to-door solicitations are another fairly routine happening in Lower Merion, said Lt. Gene Pasternak of the Lower Merion Police Department, in a previous conversation.
In order to sell items door-to-door in the township, however, solicitors are required to have a permit and photo identification, Pasternak said. A list of approved solicitors is available on the township website.
Township residents "should be very hesitant to give business to someone without a permit."
"If they're not displaying photo ID—and even if they do—there's nothing wrong with calling us," Pasternak said. "We have a record of everyone out soliciting, and we can either drive by or check records. Whenever you're in doubt, if something doesn’t feel right, give us a call."
To contact local police in an emergency, dial 911. Otherwise, Lower Merion police can be reached at 610-649-1000.