Suspecious gardener Crimes & Incidents, posted by Sue, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Dec 1, 2008 at 4:45 pm
A male (Mexican? about 40 years old?) rang my doorbell around 4:10pm today and asked if I've asked for a gardener, which I didn't. He waved a scrap of paper and named my street number and said somebody told him that this street number is looking for a gardener. After I said I didn't call for a gardener, he left in a white sedan. I didn't catch his license plate but became suspecious as he was not driving a gardener's truck. So just want to check if anybody has similar experience and if he was into something.
Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Dec 2, 2008 at 9:52 am
You are not obligated to open your door to ANYONE you don't know. It is YOUR property.
There really isn't a viable system of selling door to door nowadays. Yes, I will open my door to girl scouts in uniform. I open my door to people I know, of course, and I will either ask who is there and carefully confirm first before opening the door or choose not to respond at all. I have a sign saying "no solicitors" and that should be respected.
Those of us who have been raised to be polite may have this automatic compulsion to open our doors even when we notice suspicious-looking people or people we don't know, and that is just what criminals take advantage of. There are accounts of women being quickly overpowered when they opened the door. Criminals may also have a ridiculous story or wish to case your home.
People are sometimes so concerned with being polite that they fail to protect themselves. You have every right to protect yourself as you see fit, and your instinct is important to follow.
That is the best approach, better safe than sorry.
Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto, on Dec 3, 2008 at 2:19 pm
Obviously, a lot of things could have been going on: he could've been casing your property - or you. He could genuinely have the wrong info. A lot of tradespeople aren't online or use phones for their work. I get lots of tradespeople employed by my landlord showing up at my place because they've been given the wrong address. Since they're Spanish speaking, it's hard to determine who they're really looking for since I'm not fully bilingual, so it could be he was legit and just had the wrong address. Not every gardener uses a gardening truck at all times, esp. when making a "sales call."
He could've been a scam artist, or someone working w/another criminal looking for some angle. Crimes committed by Roms can be similar - they run a lot of asphalt/concrete scams on homeowners.
What do you plan to do if you see him again in your neighborhood?
We had a guy casing our cul de sac during broad daylight a few years ago.When confronted by a neighbor, his excuse was he was picking lemons off the communal lemon tree. He got into an argument w/the neighbor about his "right" to pick lemons. Yeah, off a tree at the very back of the property, backing onto some sketchy apts complexes, next to the yard of someone who had a lot of valuable equipment. Mmhmm. I told him it was only when you had a right to lemons do you make lemonade, otherwise quit trespassing and lying. He took off quickly.