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Proposed ordinance to crack-down on soliciting, panhandlers

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Apr 29 2013 07:38:19 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 30 2013 01:16:17 PM CDT

As the weather starts getting warmer, some Pocatello neighborhoods might start to notice an ever-increasing amount of door-to-door sales people knocking at their doors.

POCATELLO, Idaho -

As the weather starts getting warmer, some Pocatello neighborhoods might start to notice an ever-increasing amount of door-to-door sales people knocking at their doors.

However, that can soon change.

The Pocatello Police Department will convene with the City Council on Thursday evening to revisit discussions surrounding a proposed ordinance designed to crack-down on these door-to-door solicitors.

“In the last several years our citizens have complained a lot about being scammed,” Pocatello Police Department Community Service Specialist Dianne Brush said in response to the growing numbers of complaints city residents have voiced concern over after they were paid a visit by solicitors.

Brush said these door-to-door sales people sometimes will not stop at anything, with their main goal to get inside your house to sell you a product.

“The people tell them, 'Please go away, please go away.' They won't go away, they won't get off their porch, they scream and yell at them, they throw things at them, and we have even had them force doors open,” Brush said.

If passed, the new codes will require sales companies to register for a sales license through the city, carry the minimum $1,000 bond, and mandate all individual sales representatives to undergo extensive criminal background checks. The $100 license will cover the cost of the background checks.

Brush said Pocatello is one of the few cities with lenient regulations affecting door-to-door sales. In fact, she said, people who come into the city to sell are often surprised they do not need a license.

“Pocatello (currently) requires a $25 fee, and these companies come in and register as many people as they want. These door-to-door alarm companies can come in and register anywhere between 50 to 100 people who then mass cover our town in door-to-door sales,” Brush said.

Other cities in southeast Idaho who already have similar license requirements are Boise, American Falls, Nampa, Eagle, St. Anthony, Blackfoot and Rexburg.

Mayor Brian Blad also tacked-on stricter regulations effecting panhandlers and peddlers as well. Brush said the wording will be revised on Thursday, but panhandlers have also been a large contributing source to the street scams occurring throughout the City.

Brush said one local balloon artist admitted to making nearly $40,000 on a yearly beggar's tax-free income just by soliciting money from people off the street.

One quiet Pocatello neighborhood has seen an increase in these door-to-door solicitors during these past few years, and now almost every single house down that street has a no soliciting sign on the front door.

Just this past year, neighborhood resident Juana Harris was paid a visit from an out-of-state cleaning supply sales woman who forced her way into Harris' home.

“Then later she wanted to go down into my basement without my permission, so I got a little scared because I have children,” Harris said. “So I told her that I did not want to buy anything and put her outside. We have to protect our children, and I just do not like soliciting.”

Harris' neighbor across the street, Cleo Soto, feels the ordinance will make the neighborhood communities safer.

“Sometimes I wonder if they are really selling anything,” Soto said. “If a person is by themselves, you do not want to answer the door or have them want to come in and show you something.”

However, Girl Scouts and other charity organizations are exempt from the new ordinance if it passes.

Brush also said to be vigilant for door-to-door sales people who travel in from out of the state since those are usually the people who are most likely to scam residents. She also said they sometimes come to your home to scope it out to before later returning to burglarize it.

If you find yourself the victim of a soliciting scam, Brush said to close the door and dial 911. If you have any questions regarding the business license proposal effecting door-to-door sales, call the city's business office at (208) 234-6285.

See the proposed ordinance at http://goo.gl/dI6pt.

Follow Kaitlin on Twitter: @KaitlinLoukides

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