Of late, some communities are seeing an increase in door-to-door solicitors, possibly before the cold weather starts. Transient vendors are not always welcome, and some communities have “no-knock” regulations in place. In those municipalities, residents can sign up for the do-not-knock list.
In Bainbridge, some residents recently reported solicitors who violated the township’s ordinance.
“Solicitors are not checking the no-knock list,” said Bainbridge Police Chief Jon Bokovitz, whose department gets calls from residents.
The township ordinance does not apply to juveniles selling fundraising items or individuals promoting religious organizations or political causes.
Bainbridge Trustee Lorrie Benza said the township once had an outright prohibition of door-to-door vendors; however, state law prohibits that now. To address the matter, the township adopted the no-knock procedure in 2018, directing solicitors register at the police department.
“We can’t prohibit them, but we can regulate them,” Mrs. Benza said of solicitors in the neighborhoods.
Residents can go to the township website at www.bainbridgetwp.com and sign up online for the do-not-knock list. Addresses are listed, but not the family names.
The list is electronically accessible to all transient vendors registered with the township.
Residents can also print out a “No Soliciting” sign at the online site and place it at their doors. It reads, “All transient vendors must register with the Bainbridge Township Police Department.”
If a solicitor ignores a sign or goes to a home on the no-knock list, a police officer can talk to the person, Mrs. Benza said.
“We tried to make the process as easy as we could. If a resident’s home is on the list, soliciting there is prohibited,” she said. It is enforceable unless it is removed or more than five years have passed and they have to sign up again.
South Russell Police Chief Mike Rizzo said this time of year is busy with solicitors. Some 50 to 60 permits were issued to sales people selling everything from cleaning supplies to pest control services. The process has been carried out for five years.
He noted a group of solicitors picked up permits but did not understand the no-knock list or no solicitation stickers displayed at the homes.
“We have a number of recurring groups along with new ones,” Chief Rizzo said. “Some are investment companies, and they are not a problem.”
When obtaining a permit, the solicitor undergoes a local background check, he said. The permits are good for 30 days. The sales people are given a yellow card they wear that shows they are authorized to solicit in the village. Seeing the card, people are less likely to report a suspicious person to police, he noted.
Residents who don’t want anyone at their doors are also offered signs at no cost that say “No Solicitors.”
“We revoked a permit today,” Chief Rizzo said. “If they can’t follow the rules, we are not going to give the permits. We give a list of addresses on the no-knock list and they didn’t follow the instructions. They did not honor the list,” he said.
“Our instructions are clear,” he said. When they come to the station for a permit, an officer informs them of the process and they are given a copy of the ordinance and the no-knock list.
“It’s not that difficult a process to follow,” he said. “They were advised to cease soliciting.
“We revoked their permits and advised them they were no longer welcome. If they continue to approach any homes, we will cite them under the ordinance,” Chief Rizzo said.
For those who do not want any solicitors, the best course of action is to put up no-trespassing signs at the edge of the property, Chief Rizzo said.