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Ask NOW: How should residents handle suspicious solicitors?

The Brookfield Police Department often fields calls from residents suspicious of solicitors.

The Brookfield Police Department often fields calls from residents suspicious of solicitors.

April 22, 2014

Is there a rumor you'd like tracked down? Rory Linnane answers some of the mysteries of life in Brookfield and helps solve everyday problems.

Residents find some solicitors suspicious

Question: A blogger on BrookfieldNOW.com, Dick Steinberg, posted earlier this month about solicitors who came to his home and could not produce permits for soliciting. By the time he got ahold of an officer to come to his house, he said, the solicitors had left. "I am very concerned for the safety of my neighbors and the lack of protocol when a citizen reports a suspicious incident," Steinberg wrote. Police reports often note residents calling police about solicitors. We asked police what residents should do when they suspect solicitors do not have permits.

Response: Soliciting without a permit is against the law. A city of Brookfield ordinance requires those going door to door to get permits, in order to "protect against criminal activity, including fraud and burglary," and "minimize the unwelcome disturbance of citizens and the disruption of privacy." The only exemptions are for people selling something on behalf of a nonprofit organization affiliated with a sport or school, such as Scouts and members of the Elmbrook Swim Club.

City of Brookfield Police Capt. Phil Horter said this requirement allows the city to vet anyone who wants to be able to sell door to door by doing background checks on each individual. If you're suspicious a solicitor may be committing fraud, running a scam or casing a neighborhood, Horter said it's a good idea to ask to see a permit. This opens the door to calling the police.

"If somebody comes to your door and you ask them to see their permit and they can't produce one, you can call the dispatch center and have a squad dispatched on the complaint," Horter said.

That number is (262) 787-3700, and Horter does encourage residents to call. He said the department sees illegal solicitation each year that seems to be linked to fraudulent activity.

"We're certainly leery of people who solicit without a permit, because by going through the review process, the city should be able to eliminate some potential fraud situations," Horter said. "We certainly would want to know when people are out soliciting in violation."

Submit your question for Ask NOW by sending an email to Rory Linnane at rlinnane@jrn.com.

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