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Scammers, Solicitors at the Door: LMPD's Advice

A Lower Merion resident was recently victimized.

After reporting how two burglars 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.

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."

Solicitors

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, can be reached at 610-649-1000.

Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Great public safety story Eric and Amanda! "When it comes to scammers, "everything in the world has been tried," -Lt. Frank Higgins Lower Merion Police Department I think the community undoubtedly would agree with Lt. Frank Higgins. You couldn't have gone to a better source for professional scammers. The Lower Merion Police are fully qualified in the "art of the scam". The scammers first priority is to create a false sense of creditably to the community. This is why they are also called "con" men ..... to first gain your "confidence" in them .... to trust them to do right thing. .... "con"tinued
A. Friend August 05, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Those claiming to be from PECO in an "emergency situation" could easily present fake ID; very few people would be able to tell. And if a likely criminal is at your door, you should call the police immediately -- and you shouldn't warn the person that the police are on the way. These people need to be caught -- not given warnings that the police are on the way.
Amanda Mahnke (Editor) August 05, 2012 at 06:55 PM
A comment has been deleted because it violates Patch's terms of use.
Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Hi Amanda! sorry! .... what exactly violated the terms of use?
A. Friend August 05, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Rick: I don't think it is proper or permissible to criticize the police. They are here to protect us all and should not be subject to criticism. Please keep this in mind in the future.
Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 07:20 PM
It is absolutely proper and permissible to criticize the police. This is the USA ... not Russia, Iran or North Korea. Did you learn different in school or collage? These allegations are all of formal criminal charges filed with the public officials. The same has been said to the thousands of Catholic priests in our country that were criminally decimating the children in our community.
Amanda Mahnke (Editor) August 05, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Hi Richard, Patch Terms of Use (available to view here- http://ardmore.patch.com/terms) states that among other things, Patch users agree not to post comments that are defamatory. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at ardmore@patch.com. Thanks.
Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Amanda, no personal "names" were used in this community post. Defamation is a "false" public statement made against a person. The Court declared that the First Amendment protects open and robust debate on public issues even when such debate includes "vehement, caustic, unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials." A public official or other plaintiff who has voluntarily assumed a position in the public eye must prove that defamatory statements were made with knowledge that they were false or with reckless disregard of whether they were false.
Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 08:35 PM
The community would welcome and demand an investigation of felony criminal allegations against the Lower Merion Township Police and the Township commissioners ....Criminals should NOT be employed as "law enforcement officers" Richard Liberatoscioi richard.liberatoscioli@gmail.com
Lucy Bennett (Editor) August 05, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Rick, I'm sure you can appreciate that it is important to attribute quotes to the right people, and, as you will notice, although the quote you mention above is close to a comment by Amanda, it was not said by Amanda. That quote came from another user. No one is above the law, and I hope if you have proof of a wrongdoing by anyone you will bring it to the appropriate authorities. In addition, if you want to email any documentation to ardmore@patch.com, we will be happy to look it over and see if there is a story. Patch's comment area is meant to be a place where users can feel comfortable discussing the story. Vague repeated attacks on any group, company, institution with no real details don't further our conversation about the story, nor do they help resolve any issue you may be alluding to. Lucy Bennett Patch Regional Editor
Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Thank-you Lucy! I see it now, I was in error. My sincere apologies to Ms.Mahnke. : ( "In addition, if you want to email any documentation to ardmore@patch.com, we will be happy to look it over and see if there is a story." - Lucy Bennett Great! I 'll post them here as well. Please let me know if I'm submitting anything against the "terms of use" policy. I will be happy the edit the problem. Thanks again!
Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 10:27 PM
An excellent example of this was the bogus Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation awarded to the Lower Merion Police Dept. Sold to the community as "your assurance of competent law enforcement officials". I'm sure the community then felt "confidant" in knowing that there was an outside "competency oversight" in the people we have entrusted to enforce the laws of the commonwealth .... until you look and ask questions behind the scam. The felony crimes committed by the Lower Merion Police occurred during the same time their application for "Law Enforcement Accreditation"!! This is the very definition of a major scam against the community. A pre-meditated fabrication of a crime by the LMPD. Fabricated police reports by LMPD. Lower Merion Commissioners promise of a full criminal investigation of these crimes committed by the Lower Police .... was never conducted, only circumvented the law. In an attempt to report these crimes to LMPD Superintendent... was then attacked by the LMPD just outside their head quarters resulting in permanent disabilities. The attacking LMPD was moved up to a Lieutenant's position and the acting Police Superintendent is now the commissioner of the same Law Enforcement Accreditation program. Talk about running a scam ..... this is the most deadly to any community.
Rick Liberatoscioli August 05, 2012 at 10:38 PM
" I don't think it is proper or permissible to criticize the police" - A. Friend Who else is on your list A. Friend that we all in the community should hold ether "above the law" or "beyond reproach"? The Township Commissioners? The DA? The District Judges? The County Judges? Please advise the community.
Rick Liberatoscioli August 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM
Our Superintendent Michael McGrath is certainly well qualified to head our Public Criminal Corruption Department. I think most would agree that this better reflects the service they are providing to the community. Richard Liberatoscioli richard.liberatoscioli@gmail.com

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