Door-to-Door Don’ts: Community Cracks Down on Solicitors

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BATH TOWNSHIP, Ohio--Trustees in Bath Township- a northern Summit County community- want a law that allows police to file charges against door-to-door solicitors unless they are properly registered.

The community currently has a solicitation ordinance but it leaves police little authority to do anything about complaints.

"If you came to my door and I called in a complaint and the police came out and said to you 'we're writing this up' then it would fall back on me, frankly to sue you for whatever I wanted relief on," said trustee Jim Nelson.

Several other township trustees said they have had uncomfortable episodes with solicitors who may, or may not have been legitimate.

"A pickup truck pulled into my driveway, which is not near anyone else's home, and someone got out of the truck. She came to the door to solicit me to buy a vacuum cleaner which immediatly raised question marks in my own mind in that this was not an easy spot to access, so why would she be approaching me?" said Betty Corbett.

"I obviously did not open the door and did not engage her further. As she left, I called the police department. In doing that, found that there was no registered vacuum sales people in our area at the time," said Corbett.

"It doesn't happen very often but I was out in my backyard once and a man approached me so you feel vulnerable because you don't know what they are asking for," said Elaina Goodrich.

Township administrator Vito Sinopoli is asking Summit County Council to pass a new law that would not only give Bath Township more authority to address solicitation concerns, but would apply to communities and townships across the county.

The law would require solicitors to register in advance.

"The legislation was designed to allow for a registration process and a background investigation of those individuals to be able to identify those who are legitimate and those who arent so legitimate," said Sinopoli.

The law would leave charitable organizations, school fundraisers, and policital candidates exempt.

"We'll get the girl scouts, the boy scouts, the band members, the groups that still need local support. They will still be ringing our doorbells and hopefully be welcomed by the residents but now with this legislation in place people will have more reason to pay attention to who's there and call the police," said Corbett.

"We want to be a friendly community. We want to be able to support those groups within our community and love them for their activity and come behind them and beside them," said Sharon Troike, who feels the law, if passed, would put Bath Twp. residents more at ease.

"Bath is kind of a target because we are a more affluent community and so I think that people who are going to engage in criminal activity are more attracted to this area and this sends out the warning message," added Troike.

Sinopoli was presenting the proposal to Summit County Council during its meeting Monday evening.

If it passes, the violation would become a first-degree misdemeanor with a penalty of between $100 and $500.