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  • Is this legal?

    Greetings,

    I have lived in my city for a little over 5 years in a fairly nice neighborhood without any problems...until recently.

    All of a sudden, I have had a number of homeless men knocking on the door asking for handouts and for work. My wife answered the first knock without me being home (didn't give any handouts) but now has learned her lesson and ignores them.

    Is this door-to-door panhandling legal? It's getting to the point of harassment, but it's never the same person. Do I have any recourse? Is this a normal event in and it's just seeping into our neighborhood? I am hesitant to call the police because I know what their call volume is like and don't want to waste their time if nothing can be done.

    Thank you.

  • #2
    you may first check your municipal code on a panhandling or solicitation statute. Or if as you stated you are not sure you want to bother law enforcement you may check with your homeowners association to see if this is a problem they may help you deal with. Again if the police are called try to call while the subject is actually soliciting to avoid being "fluffed off".

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    • #3
      Unless there is a local ordinance prohibiting it, yes. And an ordinance prohibiting it completely may be invalid.
      Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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      • #4
        No comment wrong forum

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        • #5
          panhandeling might be legal there,you have to check. but i can promise trespassing is not, if they come on you property unwanted their breaking the law. they might just be knocking on doors to find out peoples schedual. your going to come home someday and there wont be a thing in your house. you need to handle that asap. they might have a high call volume but i would rather run them off than try to find them as a murder suspect because i found a finger print, even if you call the law once they are going to know the community in on to them no matter what they might be up to
          In god i trust everyone else gets run on NCIC

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          • #6
            Sounds like someone is casing your neighborhood to determine when people are home so they can perform burglaries.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DAL View Post
              Unless there is a local ordinance prohibiting it, yes. And an ordinance prohibiting it completely may be invalid.
              Most municipal ordinances which deal with door to door solicitation make exceptions for religious, charitable, and political reasons. Often times, these solicitations can be as much of a nuisance as the panhandling. Re: The "homeless" solicitors. A firm refusal is often the best deterent. Getting your neighbors in on that adds to the effectiveness. Another caution: Before answering the door, determine who's there. Your refusal can also be transmitted through a closed door.

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              • #8
                Call the police. These people are casing the neighborhood to see if people are home or not. I bet if you check the crime stats around your area you'll see that the Breakins began to rise about the same time you started noticing this trend. Let the police come and identify these guys.
                There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke

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                • #9
                  Thank you for your replies. My biggest fear, as you pointed out, is that they are taking an inventory of what's in the house and checking our schedule. I am speaking with the police on the matter.

                  Perhaps next year at this time the Crown Victoria with the green stripes and light bar on the roof parked in my driveway may deter them. (making career switch to LEO from teaching...)

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                  • #10
                    Law pleases 'No Soliciting' champ
                    An anti-soliciting champion finds that an ordinance he pushed in Clearwater is backed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
                    By BRYAN GILMER, Times Staff Writer
                    © St. Petersburg Times
                    published June 22, 2002


                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                    CLEARWATER -- Dave Campbell stands on the brown tile stoop of his Spanish-style house and points to the "No Soliciting" sign on his screen door.

                    "That's a sign that works," he says.

                    Since 1995, Campbell has been an evangelist for "No Soliciting" signs in his Grovewood subdivision, an aging but solidly middle-class suburban neighborhood.

                    Bugged by repeated visits from Jehovah's Witnesses, Campbell pushed for the 1995 Clearwater ordinance that gives "No Soliciting" signs the force of law. Solicitors who knock anyway can be charged with a misdemeanor.

                    So Campbell was especially pleased when he heard about Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said such ordinances offer "ample protection" of property owners' rights against the free-speech rights of door-to-door canvassers.

                    In the same case, the court struck down as unconstitutional a small Ohio town's requirement that all canvassers register with the city before banging on doors.

                    In the Tampa Bay area, Temple Terrace requires solicitors and canvassers to get a free permit, but it exempts people from organizations with a nonprofit tax status. Officials there are reviewing the ordinance in light of the Supreme Court decision.

                    Other governments said the ruling changes nothing. Tampa and Hillsborough County have no door-to-door solicitation ordinance. Pasco County ordinances do not cover volunteer solicitors, but solicitors hired by charities need a permit.

                    St. Petersburg's ordinance does not place restrictions on non-commercial solicitors; commercial solicitors need peddlers' permits.

                    "We looked at it, and I don't think it's going to affect us," St. Petersburg City Attorney John Wolfe said of Monday's ruling.

                    For decades, Jehovah's Witnesses have been at the center of court cases that strike the balance between property owners' privacy and safety and the rights of people to spread their ideas door to door.

                    They challenged the Ohio permit requirement all the way to the Supreme Court.

                    Robert Mackey, overseer of Tampa for the church, said going to homes to seek new believers is central to the faith.

                    He said the church does not oppose "No Soliciting" sign ordinances, and that its members respect the signs even where no city law backs them.

                    "They usually just refrain from knocking," Mackey said. "When there is a sign saying 'No Jehovah's Witnesses,' we mark it down and it's incorporated into our information about the territory."

                    Campbell, who is retired but declines to disclose his age, said the Jehovah's Witnesses who used to visit him were not as accommodating.

                    "Every six weeks or every three weeks, they would unload a pack of Jehovah's Witnesses, good looking people in suits or whatever," Campbell remembers. "Every time they would come, we'd tell them, 'We don't like the intrusion, please mark us off your list.' But this went on and on and on again."

                    After the Clearwater City Council passed the ordinance, Campbell bought a stack of "No Soliciting" signs and handed them out to his neighbors. He has a diagram of the neighborhood, labeled with each homeowner's phone number and whether they posted a sign. More than half of the homes put up a sign, he said.

                    There was one more visit from Jehovah's Witnesses. Police charged one with violating the ordinance. The charge was dropped on a technicality, but Campbell says they haven't been back.

                    In fact, with a "critical mass" of homes off limits, most solicitors find Grovewood so unproductive that they bypass it entirely, Campbell says.

                    For the occasional stray doorbell ringer, Campbell has a whole spiel.

                    "I say, 'Can you wait a minute?"' he says. "That catches them off guard. I go and get a couple copies of this," Clearwater Code of Ordinances Section 21.16.

                    "One is for him, and one is for his boss," Campbell says with a grin.

                    -- Times staff writers Tamara Lush and Matthew Waite contributed to this story.
                    Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

                    [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

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