The Doors In Westport

A relatively new Westporter writes:

I can’t believe Westport allows door-to-door solicitation! It is very frightening to be home alone during the day with young children, and have strangers come to the door.

I have encountered everything from a man selling food out of his truck, to Optimum sales guys who show up at the most annoying times.

This is a concern for many people. I think it is dangerous that our town allows this. Who in Town Hall would we need to petition to get this changed? Thank you!

Door to door

Living in a condo — where we don’t even get Halloween trick-or-treaters — this is a new one on me.

So I went to my go-to guy: town operations director Dewey Loselle. He replied:

We do not have an ordinance that prohibits it. However, we do have an ordinance that requires a vendor to get a permit from the town (selectman’s office) before being able to do any sort of sales/soliciting door to door.

There is a small fee. The Police Department also does a cursory background check before we approve the permit. The permit says there should be no soliciting after 6 p.m. Persons soliciting without a permit may be reported to the Police Department.

There have been questions (constitutional) as to whether religious groups need to get a permit to go door to door, so we don’t make them get permits. Also, we usually don’t require permits for not-for-profits selling fundraising tickets (like for the Rotary).

Thanks, Dewey! Now, if you can take care of those !@#$%^&*s who call every night from “Customer Service,” the (not-Westport) Police Benevolent Union, Kevin the roofing guy…

And yes, I am on the do-not-call registry.

36 responses to “The Doors In Westport

  1. Hmm. I’d suggest to your newcomer that no ordinance would protect against a real bad guy/home invader. If she/he worries that much about this, probably a good thing to invest in an alarm system with panic button, front door camera/intercom etc.

  2. Hey… I spent a college summer in the early 70’s flogging Electrolux vacuums door to door in Westport, I can still chuckle to myself remembering that as a 21 year old I had the guts to ask the housewives that answered the door if they would like to see my Power-Nozzle. The ones that didn’t slam the door usually laughed and I made many sales.

  3. No one is forcing you to answer the door.

  4. The otpimum guy was walking all around my house; at the moment I spotted him, I didn’t know from whom he represented. When I went out to ask who he was, he was tenacious in his sales pitch and followed me back up my front steps and wouldn’t leave. I ran into the house, locked my doors. ..but he hasn’t been the first. We have had multiples.

  5. …and we live on a private street. Does that protect us from solicitors?

  6. Have we become such a Nanny State that we need a new law to protect us from what might be on the other side of our own front doors? If you aren”t expecting someone simply don’t answer your door. Or, if you are the adventurous type, buy a Smith & Wesson t-shirt and answer your door only when wearing it. It will likely prevent the “solicitors” from calling on your home in the future. But please…stop asking Government to protect us. Isn’t it obvious by now that they can’t/won’t/shouldn’t?

  7. If you feel uncomfortable just don’t answer your door. If you think the person is sketchy…call the cops if that makes you feel more comfortable… a local law will not stop these solicitors as rarely do they check in with the town to ask for rules of soliciting. It sounds like you should invest in a video doorbell and answer accordingly. Common sense…not more useless ordinances is the correct approach here!

  8. Kathryn Sirico

    I have lived in Westport for 40 years and never have been approached when in my home, yard or pool as many times as I have in my new Westport location over the past two years. It takes you off guard, an intrusion and frighting. I have found the religious solicitors down right belligerent. I also sold Avon door to door in the 60’s but those safe times are over. Do we let our children go selling school candy or Girl Scout cookies door to door as we once did?? It is not any different. I don’t want to creep around my home or not leave a window or door open during the day because I am fearful. And yes, that is the correct word “fearful”. My neighbor and her young daughter had in incident last summer and came over to my house until the police arrived due to a solicitor. I have called both the Town Hall and Police to be told what is referred to above. Soliciting on one’s private property SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED. Let’s wait until something tragic occurs.

    • So what do you propose to prevent something tragic from happening? Because we live in Westport does not mean we should not be vigilant and again…exercise common sense.

      • Common sense should work,but these days there is not much of that. Also one might miss out on some terrific cleaning product from the Fuller Brush Company, or some beautiful new vision from Avon Calling, not to mention goodies from the Girl Scouts. Or…….you could build a solid nine foot fence all around your property with a gate that can only be opened by a buzzer you always keep close at hand! The only thing you have to fear is fear itself………

  9. I understand your point but I am wondering why you think a new ordinance is going to offer protection. As stated by Dewey Loselle, there already is an ordinance requiring permits but this is generally ignored. Unfortunately, tragedies can’t be prevented by enacting legislation.

    • And those looking to do “bad things”…robbery or worse do not really care about laws and local ordinances. Use your judgement and common sense and if you do not feel comfortable with who maybe on the other side of the door….just don’t answer it. Let common sense prevail in lieu of fear and panic. If you feel threatened call 911…but no additional ordinances are going to protect you…only common sense.

  10. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    I’ve seen “No Soliciting” signs on some people’s front gates or doorbells in my neighborhood. Not sure if it helps, though.

  11. Ellen Naftalin

    I too have been blindsided by solicitors while working in my yard…so no-not opening the door- option for me. We live on a busy road right on the Southport/Westport line. There is a program which operates out of Bridgeport that drops off vans full of young people who then fan out and knock on doors trying to sell magazines in order to gain enough points to get some sort of prize. The first time it happened I was indeed outside so I patiently waited for the young woman to finish her pitch, I looked at the magazines she had to offer and I bought a subscription. She was actually very sweet and we had a nice chat. Then she asked me for a glass of water. I went inside got her the water and then she left. I never received the magazine.

    Next time someone came (seems to be once or twice a year) I explained what had happened before and told him I was not interested. He asked me for a glass of water. I gave him a bottle of water and he left.

    The third time, I might have been a bit rude, but I explained how I would not participate in the program anymore. He asked me for some water. I am not generally a suspicious person but I decided it was a strange pattern and declined to get him a bottle of water. He turned on his heels, uttered an unrepeatable phrase and marched down the driveway.

    My husband called the Westport Police and yes it is true that Westport does not have an ordinance against door-to-door solicitation, unlike Fairfield, which does. Hence the business of this company’s driving to the parking lot of S & S and letting their young solicitors out at the Westport side of the town line.

    I still had the original receipt from the first time I had ordered a magazine, since I had stopped payment on the check after a month or two, and we called the number and said that one of their independent solicitors had gone rogue.

    The kid showed back up with his supervisor and apologized. The supervisor explained that these were at risk teenagers who were trying to get their lives back on track and that his company was a way for them to assume some responsibility but that this particular young man was new to the program and still had anger issues to deal with.

    Not very comforting, but I decided not to get the kid in any more trouble so I said we were good and that maybe I might have misheard his “vulgar” remark.
    I couldn’t help but think that this Company which is set up to help these at risk kids was probably taking the bulk of their commission for themselves.
    Oh, and the water…they walk so much up and down the streets all afternoon so they become thirsty…We suggested the company provide them with bottled water.

    I grew up here in the 50s when Fuller Brush Men were welcomed. I still have some of those brushes. I am sad to have become so cynical.

  12. I also also bought magazine subscriptions that I really didn’t need. Once, my husband was in the yard and was accosted there. Most recently, I stupidly answered the door. This young man was very polite. I OFFERED him a glass of water because it was a very warm day. He asked if he could sit down inside while I got it. A few days later, our house was broken into. Fortunately nothing was taken as the alarm probably scared them away. The police did not think it was a coincidence. Needless to say, I will never do that again.

  13. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    The “relatively new Westporter” cannot be faulted for holding on to the fear of strangers, but hers is endemic of where our society and culture is heading, or being “herded” to. To some degree we can thank the whiz kids from Silicon Valley to Harvard Yard and legions of yappy app-makers from here to eternity. For it is the code-heads who have devised all manner of devices that make it less than necessary for us to interact in real time, in real space, with real people. Need groceries? Shop on line. Amazon will deliver. Want a good book? Why trek to Barnes & Noble. Try Google Good Reads. Movie house popcorn too expensive? Netflix always has the best seats in the house. Doorbell rings? Activate your six-point security system, then sit back and enjoy the rest of your life.

  14. The magazine door-to-door sales are the worst. I once had a young man start yelling at me for saying no thank you and it was the one time my dog didn’t come running to the front door when the bell rang. It did scare me. I called my dog, Duke (who was napping apparently), and the guy took off running before he even saw the dog. After that I put up a no soliciting sign and it seemed to work.

  15. Chip Stephens - Staples 73

    And here I expected to hear a story about Jim Morrison and Company
    Mr Mojo Risin would certainly have a wry smile over all this

  16. Our neighborhood has experienced magazine solicitors for decades, and has learned from Police that often this is a certified scam–on several levels.
    More recently, we experienced two men knocking on our and neighbors doors at dusk–who said they were working on a renovation project in the neighborhood and wondered if we needed roofing services. We noticed that the men had emerged from a neighbors forested back yard, and decided to dial Police Non-Emergency/Dispatch just out of curiosity. 203-341-6000. We were surprised that our call was actually welcomed. Fairly quickly the men were caught approaching another neighbors home. The men were from New York and did not have a permit. Parol Officers took drivers license and I.D., entered into a central database and told the men if they ever returned to Westport there would be serious consequences. I believe they were escorted out of town. One of the responding Officers afterwards came to our home to thank us. Several months earlier a similar situation had occurred around Partrick Road. He was the responding Officer after a daytime home burglery. Apparently, a few days earlier, the homeowner had experienced a similar solicitation–mentioned it to neighbors who said they also had been solicited, but none of them thought it was a big deal or worthwhile alerting police. The Patrol Officer encouraged us to form a Neighborhood Watch Group–a public service program offered by Westport Police Department. At the time, Detective William Harsche brought us together to educate us about how to make our homes more secure. Some of the information was surprising, invaluable and relatively easy to implement. Most importantly, the program was of mutual benefit. The police are often aware of an emerging pattern of activity within Westport, and receiving calls from residents for what may seem like only innocuous or slightly odd incidents might actually help them connect-the-dots more easily. We have been encouraged to contact Police, as they would rather “be safe than sorry”. Agree with Jaime and Grayson that there is no absolute way to guarantee safety–as nothing in Life is perfect. However, an added benefit to the formation of our collaborative Watch Group has been that our neighborhood has become closer in many other wonderful ways.
    Since then we have also formed a Neighborhood Google Group–not only for safety concerns, but for finding lost dogs, a good plumber or supporting each other through both times of celebration as well as personal crisis. Detective Harshe says he wishes more neighborhoods would make use of this valuable public service. In the end, everyone benefits.

  17. Sharon Paulsen

    Ahem, cough, ugh … Okay folks, look, it’s kind of late in the eve, and I’m Paris/Terrorist/Refugee/U.S. Policy weary, but … okay, here it goes:

    I suppose common sense and conviction is simply the smartest way around all of these “circumstances”.

    However, these issues of door-front scams, or invasive back-yard solicitation conundrums, seems to me a mild 1st world problem.
    (This is not, in any way, suggesting that one negate any legitimate fears, when warranted, especially in terms of home invasion nightmarish events).

    But, in light of recent events, I can’t help but think that anyone who has perhaps gratefully escaped genocide or prosecution or torture, for simply existing as a human being, but being born to/at the wrong place, at the wrong time, would give a rats asshat about who is trying to sell them a product or service “aggressively”, and without a permit.

    I’m just thinking a grander/broader perspective might be in order here.

    And frankly, hearing of a newbie moving to Westport, who then complains about being fearful as a live-at-home-alone-with-kids-parent, makes me recall just a tiny smidge of tonight’s dinner coming up.

    I was raised by a single parent (my amazing Mom), as an only child, in Westport. I can’t count the times we’ve both had to use common sense to figure out how to “deal” with basic self preservation in life’s tribulations.

    Geeood, give me a break.

    Okay, I’ve said it. Sensibilities may now be challenged here.

    Thanks Dan for always bringing great discussion topics to 06880, because I do enjoy pot-stirring on occasion!

  18. Deb Holliday Kintigh,

    When our family first moved to Westport from Cos Cob in the 50’s, it was the Welcome Wagon lady at our door. Oh, how the times have changed!

  19. I was planning to commend Sharon Paulsen for her spot-on post but my doorbell is ringing and I am not expecting anyone and I am terrified to get up and answer the door…frozen by the fear that someone will try to sell me a magazine, ask for a glass of water or attempt to turn me into a JoHo.

    I can’t believe this is happening and I demand that our legislators stop trying to deal with our massive unfunded pension liability and any attempt to address real crime in cities like Bridgeport and Waterbury. I am from Westport and everything is supposed to be butterflies and zebras and moonbeams and fairy tales…my realtor promised.

    It’s still ringing…what should I do? HELP ME…

    • Sharon Paulsen

      LOL LOL!

      (Going to find me some pro-ammo t-shirts now)

    • Where do you see any evidence that our legislators are trying to deal with our massive unfunded pension liability, or attempting to address “real” crime in cities like Bridgeport? Bridgeport just elected a convicted criminal mayor. The people of Bridgeport like their criminals.

      • You’re right Michael…they’re not actually doing anything. I am just fearful that stories such as this one might give them ideas about pursuing more useless, feel-good legislation.

        Gotta go…my phone is ringing now and I am really scared somebody might have breached the Do Not Call list and might try to get me to vote for Bernie Sanders.

  20. Kevin also does painting and power washing…LOL

  21. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    It just occurred to me that the new Westport resident view “Home Alone” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” back to back. Just an idea.

  22. If you are that afraid of strangers just walking up to your door I would suggest medication or moving. You don’t have to open the door or answer it if you don’t want to. When I become that afraid of a Jehovahs Witness or a guy trying to make a living selling subscriptions or meat I will move to a doorman assisted gated community have my food sent in so I don’t have to interact with a stranger. Also, any ordinance is only as effective as the people who want to obey it, just like the speed limit signs.

  23. Kathryn Sirico

    To all the glib comments……may you be approached by one or two men while in your yard, garage or pool with no-one around who are aggressive and have no intention of leaving until they get whatever they came for…..whether you are interested or not. It is threatening, frightening and can easily escalate to more. Of course, if you are IN you home you perhaps can secure yourself. Westport should be known (along with other towns) for NO SOLICITING. Whomever may work our neighborhoods have done their homework…..need I say more?? I have been around to remember the murder of Mrs.Sillan in her StoneyBrook Rd. home and the rape and kidnap of her daughter along with the murder of Joan Werkin in 2010??? Unfortunately, in today’s world do not underestimate anyone. My experience was when converged upon in MY yard, I politely refused their pitch and it was not well taken causing absolute reason to feel threatened. When my young neighbor and her 5 year old came running over to my house late summer, they were terrified. The two men who had approached them in THEIR yard (lets not forget who the property belongs to) were aggressive. Police were called. Now on their lovely entrance a Professional Sign States “NO SOLICITING”….. it will not stop anyone (most are not accustom to adhering to rules – that is why they are in the positions they are in)…..the Town of Westport has the responsibility of an ordinance NO Door to Door Soliciting Allowed within the Town limits. The legitimate businesses and organizations do not do door to door any more.

    Kathryn Sirico

    Greg & Tony Salon 231 Post Rd West Westport CT 06880 203-226-6839

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  24. Kathryn Sirico

    Sorry, typo…..Joan Werkin’s murder was l989….her son and my daughter were in the same class at Coleytown.