The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department has issued a press release warning residents about an increase in door-to-door solicitors in local neighborhoods.
Since early January 2013, the department said it has responded to more than 77 calls for service regarding unwanted solicitors in Los Gatos and Monte Sereno.
When contacted by police, most solicitors are identified as being part of several out-of-state magazine soliciting companies, which are doing business using the names of "Open Hands," "Helping Hands," "Graceful Hands," and "Opportunity Sales," police said.
Both Los Gatos and Monte Sereno require soliciting companies to obtain a permit to solicit, police explained.
When contacted, solicitors have informed officers that their managers drop them off in neighborhoods to conduct door-to-door sales and then are picked up at the end of the day.
Usually they stay in area motels and repeat the process the next day, police added.
The manager of a group from "Opportunity Sales," of Ohio, told officers that she is in the South Bay Area with 180 solicitors that are canvassing neighborhoods.
"While specific criminal conduct has not been linked to these groups or their members, and a recent rise in daytime residential burglaries cannot be conclusively related to the solicitors, there have in the past been incidents of crime committed by solicitors," Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Chief Scott Seaman said in a written statement.
A New York Times article, "For Youths, a Grim Tour on Magazine Crews," detailed the widespread problems with these itinerant sellers and violent crimes involving the sales crews.
According to the article, the industry remains almost entirely unregulated, and on any given day, there are probably about 2,500 people, typically ages 18-24, selling magazines door-to-door. Often, the operations are bogus, meaning you pay money and never receive a single issue.
The article, along with the seasonal proliferation of magazine solicitors around town neighborhoods, serves as an important reminder of how residents must be ever vigilant in protecting their families and homes, according to police.
Any door-to-door salesperson is required by law to display a permit issued by the town of Los Gatos, police said at the time. If a solicitor does not have a permit or appears in any way suspicious, residents are advised to call police. If a solicitor leaves before police arrive, watch to see if the person gets in a car, and write down the license plate number, police said.
The department urged the public to call police to report any suspicious people, vehicles or activity taking place in their neighborhoods.
Residents may call 911, or 408-354-8600 to report such activity.