The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 11, 2014

Chief urges caution with solicitors

Chief urges caution with solicitors

SOMERSET — Out-of-towners are selling magazine subscriptions in Somerset without a license, but borough police said there may be something more sinister going on.

“Our concern is the residents could be targeted for future crimes,” police Chief Randy Cox said Friday.

That’s because the sellers, mostly young men who have been going door-to-door since Monday, also are digging for personal information.

“They’re diving for as much information (as they can get) about the households,” Cox said.

One man was cited for soliciting without a license.

Police determined that he was from Arkansas and had re­sponded to an advertisement on Craigslist. He and others are staying in the Pittsburgh area and are driven to Somerset in vans with out-of-state license plates, the man told police. He said he knows his employers only by their first names, Cox said.

“He wasn’t doing anything illegal other than soliciting without a license,” the chief said.

The solicitors identify themselves as being employed by such entities as M.A.D. (Making the American Dream).

It’s believed the solicitors are rewarded based on the information they obtain.

Similar activities are going on across Pennsylvania and in other mid-Atlantic states.

“We strongly urge residents not to engage in any type of dialogue,” Cox said. “Ask them to leave and then call 911.”

Patrick Buchnowski is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @PatBuchnowskiTD.

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