the salesman

Brent Finnegan -- July 29th, 2008

I have received several emails (some forwarded) from a reader in Rockingham County that informs me there is a “strange” man traveling door to door in county neighborhoods, reportedly selling various items — at times stating that he is conducting a survey for the school system — and is looking for households with children.

But that may sound worse than it actually is…

The accounts I have read, and that the Rockingham Sheriff’s Office has received, indicate that the man is acting creepy and pushy enough to prompt neighbors to warn each other and forward emails warning parents about the guy. One email states:

There have been reports from all around Rockingham County about a young man who is pretending to sell educational materials; he also sells dishwashing detergent. He has claimed to represent Rockingham County Public Schools on occasion, as well. He is posing as a college student trying to make money, is shabbily dressed, his behavior is erratic, and he is extremely persistent in his attempts to come inside.He has knocked on people’s back doors as late as 9:30 pm and sometimes returns three or four times in one day to the same house. His main goal seems to be to get inside the home. When asked to leave, he has lingered on front porches or out in the street for some length of time, as well.

Not wanting to create a panic, I have confirmed with the Sheriff’s Office that the man has men have been reported by several people. According to the dispatcher there, he one of the men is apparently an educational book salesman. I’m told that he one salesman has been warned not to misrepresent who he works for. At this point, it’s not clear to me who that company is.

I’ll update this post with new information if/as it becomes available.

UPDATE: It appears this “man” may in fact be several salesmen peddling various different items, including books, vacuums, and dish detergent.

11 Responses to “the salesman”

  1. Dave Briggman says:

    finnegan,

    This guy’s name appears to be “Caleb”…he was at our neighbor’s house last Saturday, and apparently had come to my house while I wasn’t at home.

    If one had access to the County School’s “classifieds” you’d see that this guy has visited the homes of MANY teachers in that school system…and has apparently represented to some that he’s been selling whatever he’s selling to benefit the County schools.

    He’s driving a black Honda, 2 door hatchback, with read spoiler and Virginia 30-day plates.

    Apparently the Dayton PD may have had contact…

    Should you live in the County and he knocks on your door, simply ask him where his solicitation permit is…that’ll get him away from you.

    Here’s the County ordinance on solicitors:
    http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.asp?pid=12196&sid=46

    Chapter 15 SOLICITORS
    § 15-1. Definition.
    § 15-2. Registration required.
    § 15-3. Issuance of permit.
    § 15-4. Fee.
    § 15-5. Prohibited acts.
    § 15-6. Exceptions.
    § 15-7. Limitations on applications.

    Sec. 15-1. Definition.
    The term”solicitor” shall mean a person who goes from door to door visiting multi-family or single-family dwellings for the following purposes:
    (a) To sell any goods, wares, merchandise or services or accept subscriptions or orders therefor.
    (b) To accept or request donations for any charitable purpose.

    Sec. 15-2. Registration required.
    All persons, before entering into or upon a residential premises within the county for the purpose of soliciting, shall register with the county sheriff and furnish him with the following information:
    (a) The name, local and permanent addresses, age, race, weight, height, color of hair and eyes and any other distinguishing physical characteristics of the applicant.
    (b) The nature or purpose for which solicitations will be made and the nature of the goods, wares, merchandise and services offered for sale.
    (c) The name and permanent address of the employer or organization represented.
    (d) A statement as to whether the applicant has been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor, and if so, the nature of the offense, when and where convicted and the penalty or punishment assessed therefor.

    Sec. 15-3. Issuance of permit.
    Upon furnishing the information required under section 15-2, the applicant shall be issued a permit, unless the information furnished in compliance with this chapter shows that the applicant has been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude. A permit issued under this chapter shall be good for one year from the date of issuance. Every solicitor shall carry his permit with him at all times while engaged in soliciting, and shall display the same to any person who shall demand to see the same while he isso engaged.

    Sec. 15-4. Fee.
    A fee of ten dollars ($10.00) to cover the costs of investigation of the applicant and processing of the application shall be paid to the county sheriff when the application is filed, and shall not be returnable under any circumstances.
    (Amended for recodification, 1987)

    Sec. 15-5. Prohibited acts.
    No person shall:
    (a) Enter into or upon a residential premises in the county under false pretenses to solicit for any purpose or for the purpose of soliciting orders for the sale of goods, wares or merchandise.
    (b) Remain in or on any residential premises after the owner or occupant has requested any such person to leave.
    (c) Enter upon any residential premises for soliciting, when the owner or occupant has displayed a “No Soliciting” sign on such premises.
    (d) Engage in the practice of soliciting in the county without a permit as provided for in this chapter.
    (e) Knowingly give false information or withhold correct information in obtaining a permit.

    Sec. 15-6. Exceptions.
    The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to:
    (a) Any person who visits any residence or apartment at the request or invitation of the owner or occupant thereof.
    (b) To members of any nonprofit civic or charitable organization who have an approved means of identification provided by such organization.
    (c) Newsboys soliciting subscriptions to any newspaper for home delivery within the county.
    (d) Route deliverymen who make deliveries at least once a week to regular customers and whose solicitation is only incidental to their regular deliveries.
    (e) Any person selling fresh farm products.
    (f) Any person licensed under the provisions of Title 38.1 of the Code of Virginia.

    Sec. 15-7. Limitations on applications.
    Nothing in this chapter shall be construed so as to impose obligations inconsistent with the limitations on local ordinances set forth in section 57-63 of the Code of Virginia.

  2. Justin says:

    We did get an email from Dr. Fenn (RCPS Superintendent) last week that the county is aware of him and not to think he is representing the county or the schools.

    I’d like to hear a report of his entire conversation and what his actual purpose is. Nothing like that has surface through RCPS mail/news/classifieds.

    All that is up now are reports about multiple visits a day selling anything from vacuum cleaners, dish detergent, “educational materials” and student handbooks. He’s either alone on foot or in a car with three other people. They know names and that people work for the schools somehow.

    Quite a wide range of information. I don’t doubt they are true though.

  3. Dave Briggman says:

    This is a compilation of emails who’s most recent contributor, C.C. Dodd, is an employee of HPD:

    From HPD

    From: CeCe Dodd [mailto:Ccdodd@ci.harrisonburg.va.us]
    Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 9:57 AM
    To: REMOVED
    Subject: RE: Information on the Rockingham County suspected scam salesman

    I have spoken to my contact at the RCSO, and there are two or three people involved here:

    The guy selling BOOKS is legitimate, the deputy contacted the book company and everything is kosher.

    The guy selling vacuums has been caught.

    There have been no police reports filed on the guy selling dish liquid.

    The bottom line is that if you do not feel comfortable talking to anyone who shows up to your house, call the police. If you see someone acting suspiciously in your neighborhood, or if you
    turn down a sales person and they DO NOT LEAVE your property, call 911!!!!!!!

    The police cannot do anything if they do not know about it, however, their phones have been ringing nonstop b/c of this email. Please call only if you have info that will help identify the person, or if the activity is occurring now or has occurred in the past few hours!

    RCSO 564-3800
    Or 911 if the suspicious person will not leave!!!

  4. finnegan says:

    Thanks for the info. I’ve updated the post.

  5. Lowell says:

    Why have you not reported or commented on this?

    Kind of a big deal I would think.

    I have waited to see what you would do, and obviously you intend to write nothing…

    Why might this be?

  6. Emmy says:

    Lowell, I’m going to assume that the reason it hasn’t been brought up on this blog is because it isn’t a local story. Tragic, of course, but no direct impact locally. Usually when this blog covers a story in some other part of the country it has a direct local impact. Violence like this does impact all of us, but if all stories like this were reported on here, we’d never do anything else.

  7. Lowell says:

    O.K. Emmy,
    Fair enough that this site only deals with local issues.
    I greatly appreciate what you folks cover, I just didn’t want to seem like I was singling any one site out for the question.

  8. finnegan says:

    Hmm. That comment seems kind of brash and out of left field. Was it actually directed at the hburgnews bloggers, or at Dave and Myron?

  9. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    On the rockdem site, Lowell said he posted the same exact message on several blogs, so I take it that it was aimed more at blogs generally without regard to the specific niche of this one.

    Unfortunately, church shootings are becoming a little too common to gain traction beyond a few days, but this one (shooting up a UU church because of their liberal views) is certainly an unusual one.

  10. Marty says:

    Friggin’ Quixtar salesmen…ugh….

  11. David Miller says:

    Lowell, I’ll address it in one comment. The world if full of really messed up people. Some hate liberals, some hate conservatives, some are protestants, some are catholic, some are muslim, some are athiests, others are governments and most involved in this kind of headline need either medication or jail time but certainly they usually need both. We’ve got our share of crazies in the Valley too, this thread is an example of some local flavors.

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