Gulfport Police warn neighbors about 'aggressive' door-to-door salesmen

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport Police want to warn residents of recent complaints they've received about door-to-door salesmen. The chief said some of the salesmen are just too aggressive and several neighbors have had a hard time getting them to leave their property.

Some of the calls came from Bayou View.  Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania said several neighbors complained about door-to-door salesmen who just couldn't take "no" for an answer.

"They're just subscribing to some very aggressive sales tactics. It's not necessarily criminal misconduct in nature, but I think the over-aggressiveness is taking advantage of people's common courtesy and hospitality," said Papania.

"It's really not fair," he added. "Some of the complaints are coming from our older citizens, who quite frankly come from a time when it was safe to open your doors and let people in."

Angela Chambliss said a salesman showed up at her home in The Briars subdivision this week asking suspicious questions.

"He wouldn't tell me what it was he was trying to sell. He was asking me personal questions about how long I'd lived here, what alarm company I was with," said Chambliss.

She immediately called the police.

"I have children and I live in a neighborhood that I feel is quite safe," Chambliss said. "But then when you see people coming door-to-door who can't answer questions about what it is they're trying to sell, it makes you believe it's not a legitimate business. I felt maybe like he was casing the house."

"When you have somebody that goes beyond the scope of what I call common courtesy, that's when the red flag should start coming up and be very concerned," said Papania.

The chief said for legal reasons, he couldn't disclose the name of the company he's referring to or the type of business; however, he said if any stranger shows up at your door, there are precautions you need to take.

"If they say they're a sales person, they should be able to produce a business license issued by the city of Gulfport with their specific name. I would ask them for identification compared to that name," said Papania.

The chief said according to city ordinance, salesmen can't come knocking between nightfall and 8:00 a.m.

"When someone knocks, you're not obligated to answer. And if you want to completely avoid peddlers and solicitors, you can merely put in front of your property a sign that says: "Solicitors and Sales Not Welcome", and that, by ordinance, prohibits them from coming to your door," said Papania.

Finally, if someone is too pushy or have overstayed their welcome, don't hesitate to call the police. The chief said anyone who violates city ordinance concerning door-to-door sales could be prosecuted. It is a misdemeanor and violators could face fines and jail time.

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