Friday, November 20, 2009

"Neighborhood Watch" Visitor Comes A-Calling

Something for everyone to be aware of, from a reader....

"A number of buildings on the 800 block of Sunnyside were approached tonight by a rather large guy who initially stated that he wanted to come in to share some flyers about a neighborhood block club. I spoke to him out my window, and wanted to share what happened with interested readers.

I'm active in the Clarendon Park Neighbors Association (the local block club) and I mentioned to him that I had never seen him before. He tried again: 'Well, it's the other block club.' He then amended his statement to say that he was from 'the neighborhood watch,' which, coincidentally, I had some experience helping with in the past. He still didn't seem too familiar to me!

So, last try, he mentioned that he was really 'trying to help the kids out here by going right up to them and offering some job training and stuff like that,' and if I would just let him in, he'd be very happy to talk more about it. I let him know that he was welcome to leave his flyers at the front door of the building. Rather than just dismiss him or not respond to his buzzing, it seemed worth it (or maybe just cathartic for me) to actually talk to him and let him know, as respectfully and directly as possible, that I was having a hard time believing what he was talking about.

Readers, keep an eye out, be safe, be respectful, and get to know your neighbors!"

Update: Another reader adds: "The same described man came to my apartment last night around 9pm. He spoke to my downstairs neighbor and me about selling subscriptions for a newspaper route for 'kids in gangs.' " Watch out for this guy! Please call the police, as a retired officer suggests in the comments.


  1. I actually had a similar experience with this man or someone doing the same thing in the Truman Square neighborhood about 2 years ago.

  2. ... land shark ...


    Actually, there was a man buzzing into my building yesterday, stating he was from RCN Cable and wanted to come up to discuss my cable situation. When I told him that I was uninterested he asked that I buzz him in so he could leave some flyers in the lobby.

    I then directed his attention to the "No Solicitors" sign near the call box and wished him a good day.

    Thanks to this reader for sending this in, as (obviously) ne'er-do-wells look at call boxes as kiosks of opportunity.

    Never buzz anyone in unless you know who they are.

  3. Oh, and with the census starting up soon, be careful.

    My building has already had a few "early bird" census takers stop by for a visit.

    Keep on your toes in the coming months, folks.

  4. So did he leave a flyer?

    Or was he a burglar/rapist/con man trying to gain access to your home?

    Did you call 911? The guy could be a known criminal that the police have gotten other calls on. They could already be looking for him.

    Not a bad idea to let your neighbors know about your visitor, but let the police know as well. If the guy is legit when they catch up to him, no harm, no foul.

    On the other hand, if police were just told on their radio zone or at their roll call to look for the rather large suspicious guy knocking on doors allegedly with flyers for a block club or Neighborhood Watch or Jobs for Youth, and he HAS NO SUCH FLYERS, now he's got some splainin' to do, and a simple name check by police may take this guy off the streets.

    Good for you for not just opening your door. That is often the first act leading to a burglary, rape or home invasion. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your guard up!

  5. I have had a "cable guy" come by and demand access to the building when I walked up behind him on the sidewalk. I refused and he got upset because he had "such good deals on RCN." We called the police and they found him not far away. He did not work for RCN, and had a criminal history. It appears he may have been loosely associated with someone from RCN and got money if he got anyone to switch. Regardless just be careful don't ever let someone into your building you do not know. So many people do, and it can lead to so many bad outcomes.

  6. We're hearing that the guy in the post was working this same scam on Agatite a couple weeks ago. Please call 911 if he approaches you or your building. He's running a con, and he's up to no good.

  7. I suggest the neighborhood watch out for these two idiots who beat the hell outta an elderly man at the World Gym.

    Two ironworkers from Wilson Yard apparently.

    Perhaps Shiller was right. The criminals are coming from outside the hood.

    I'm guessing "roid rage".

    I hope Holsten insists the subcontractor toss these two gentlemen off the job site.

    Possibly from the 6th floor........

  8. Gee...I'm used to ducking the sweetly dressed Jehovah's Witness kids at the door.
    It's tough, because if you don't let in the 'Com Ed' guy, you might end up with an insane 'estimated' bill at the end of the month.
    Better safe than sorry.

  9. He was in Truman Square Saturday night. Tried to get me to let him into my place by telling me he was "working on the bad gang problem in our neighborhood". He told my next door neighbor just a minute earlier that he was with Neighborhood Watch. She called the police who told us they were well aware of him and to tell our neighbors not to let him in and to call the cops IMMEDIATELY if he shows up. He's a heavyset black guy, looks around 30, and was carrying a clipboard with a paper with signatures on it. The creepy part is that we don't have a lobby or vestibule, he was trying to get us to let him directly into our homes.

  10. Something similar happened to me (in "South Andersonville") last year. There was a guy (a kid, really) telling me he was from the phone company and had to see a copy of my phone bill to clear up some kind of issue. I excused myself, went into my apartment and waited till he went away.

    Hey kid - if you want some "cred" as an employee of AT&T, don't be wearing a college sweatshirt and cutoff jeans!

  11. I'm at the corner of Magnolia and Lawrence and this JUST happened at my building... two hispanic males (one very large, another slender) were buzzing all the residents either saying they were here to talk about the gang problem in the neighborhood or that they're with the "neighborhood watch." I told them I would be right down and then proceeded to call 911. A police car came rather quickly, and I watched and listened from my open window... the guys were selling subscriptions to the Tribune and one of my neighbors actually went down there and BOUGHT ONE from the dudes!! The cops asked some questions and then left, telling them to "carry on and good luck." This CANNOT be legit!!

  12. Wow, Grace, that is TOTALLY hinky. I don't think the Trib goes door to door, and even if they do, why would they say they're with "Neighborhood Watch"? Very suspicious.

    I'd tell your neighbor to read this article from Edgewater Community Buzz and to watch her bank account closely.

    Really too bad the cops weren't on it more.

  13. One of these guys was working Ainslie St. this evening for his "neighborhood watch" on Argyle. After we refused to let him in, he called my husband a grinch. At least he's getting into the holiday spirit.
    We called 911, and the undercover officer caught up with him up the street. We watched as the undercover let him go. He drives a white minivan.