Be On the Alert for “Scammers” At Your Doorstep

From Captain Bill Murphy in a Northeast community newsletter sent out this afternoon:

Hello, just wanted to update everyone on a problem that has been occurring in Silver Lake and possibly Franklin Hills. A male Caucasian, in his 20s, has been going door to door asking for donations. He uses different pitches to try and get residents to give him money. One of these is that he is a member of the USC Baseball Team and he is collecting money for the team to attend an upcoming baseball tournament. Another is that he grew up in the area “don’t you know my parents?” then requests a donation to assist him to pay for his schooling. Anyway, whatever the pitch is you should be cautious. He begins by being very charming but when it becomes evident that the residents are not going to give him money – he becomes agitated. To date, we have not heard that any of the incidents have escalated beyond this. There were rumors flying around regarding him pushing residents, etc… but we have no reports that this ever occurred. He appears to simply be a scammer seeking donations door to door.

Also, some residents are worried that his actual purpose is to “case” their home for a future burglary or distract them so another person could steal from them. While it is possible that he is casing – I do not believe that this is the case. Generally, suspects who case an area do not want to bring attention to themselves. They are there to quietly select targets. The last thing they want to do is go door to door getting into arguments with residents – it bring way too much attention on them. And I do not believe he is committing distraction burglaries either. We have no reports of this and all the information I have simply talks about him being by himself trying to solicit donations.

An alert witness wrote down a license plate of a vehicle he may be using. We are working this up and I have placed extra officers in the area. We should be able to find him and find out what he is up to (book him if we can). The acts that he has committed so far (aggressive solicitation with fabrication) amount to low-level misdemeanors.

Here are some strategies to use on people seeking donations at your door:

1. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR if you do not know who’s there.

2. Do not give any personal information whatsoever during the conversation.

3. Do not become engaged in a long discussion – they are good communicators and want to break you down to get a donation.

4. If the person persists, tell him to leave literature about his cause and you’ll take a look at it – be polite – but tell him you have to go.

5. Call LAPD Northeast Area (213) 485-2563 if you see him or he comes to your door. My officers will be alerted to this problem.

Thanks Bill