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Roxborough Resident Warns of Suspicious Solicitors

Maris Street resident says phony energy company scammers attempt robbery.

Suspicious so-called alternative energy company sales people attempted to rob one Maris Street home, the Roxborough resident told Patch.

Alex Gross, from the 600 block of Maris Street, said Monday evening three, African-American phony sales people in their mid-20s approached his home in what he called a robbery attempt.

At 6:30 p.m. Gross said a young black woman knocked on his door carrying a binder. Two young men paced around behind her. Gross described the encounter:

"She asked me if I was in charge of the PECO bill at my house, I said no. She asked if that person was available and I said no...and then she said 'yes they are, they're right behind you. Look behind you, over there!'

"And so, hearing about such attempts before, I just closed the door and called the police. The police said that they had a similar call come in from Roxborough Avenue, and it turned out they were going door-to-door there as well."

In 2011, Pennsylvania began allowing alternate energy companies to supply electricity to consumers. According to the PA Public Utility Commission, nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians have switched. These companies often send out employees to entice consumers to change suppliers.

5th District Police Captain John Cerrone said no arrests were reported but would put a message out to squad cars, telling officers to be on the lookout.

"The best advice is to request identification and to not let anyone in the house. You should contact the police if it's not legitimate sales person," he said. "No matter what they are soliciting, you should always ask for identification."

Gross called 911, and posted a message on Facebook Monday, encouraging residents to do the same if they see anything.

Cerrone said any information people can provide police always helps.

"Sometimes, I hear people say they saw a suspicious person sitting on their neighbors' step but didn't want to do anything about it. Then they'll tell us when there's a burglary a day or two later," he said.

On the Roxborough-Manayunk Patch Facebook page, several residents shared similar encounters to Gross. None were as extreme, but each involved a level of discomfort for the residents.

Andrea Dwyer said in October: "The extremely young salesman didn't have a business card or know information about the rates or increases, and was easily confused by simple questions, so I asked him to leave information and we'd contact the company directly."

Stephanie Arentzen said he did not feel "threatened but instantly made my guard go up... Then not to mention wanting me to leave him at my door step to go get him my old bills. Nothing about it seemed okay."

Others said suspicious happenings occurred on Dawson Street, Kalos Street and in Upper Roxborough, while other neighbors said they just don't open their doors.

Some residents said they've switched to alternate energy with a door-to-door sales person, but it was above board the entire time—the person showed ID and provided a phone number to speak to a supervisor.

Olivia Biagi said she experienced this while living in South Philadelphia, and the salesman in Roxborough behaved professionally.

"I never felt threatened or uncomfortable and he made no move to get inside my apartment he stayed outside the entire time," she said.

Cerrone told citizens to call 911 during any incidents. If they have information for police, people can reach out to the 5th District at 215-686-3050.

Visit PAPowerSwitch.com for info on electric companies.

PhillyGLL November 28, 2012 at 09:41 PM
P.S. - This was Houghton Street a few months ago.
RoxGirl November 29, 2012 at 03:50 AM
This happend to me today in the Valley near Saul High School. A young woman knocked on my door and asked to see one of my bills. I said no at least a total of 7 times if not more. She was extremely insistant and demanding about seeing my bill. I told her I did not recieve a call or letter stating that someone would be in the area to request information. She then showed me her company badge, which I do not know if it was real or a fake. She kept talking, I kept saying, no, no, no. Finally, I told her she'll have to come back another time when my husband is home and talk to him about it. Then she has the nerve to say, why don't you just go get the bill. I told her, I'm done here, you're not getting it, and you can come back when my husband is home like I asked and I shut the door. I just thought the whole thing was very strange. I didn't get a legitimate or professional feel from her, and thought her to be quite rude.
Debbie Thomas November 29, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Unless I am expecting someone, I do not open my door when someone knocks or rings the bell. Luckily the Water Department and PGW put notices in either the doors or on the porches or homes when they're going to be doing work. PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER if you don't know who it is. It sounds like these scammers are getting more and more persistent.
Hal Schirmer November 29, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Reminds me of an apocryphal story about the "Little Old Lady,... who watches CSI" She - chains the door - 'here's that glass of water dear...' He - drinks the water, returns the glass, "So, can I come in to find that bill?" She - 'No dear, but, thanks for the finger prints. You know, it would be a shame for anything odd to happen in the neighborhood'
PhillyRox4 December 12, 2012 at 12:42 AM
A similar thing was going on Summit ave, except they were saying that there company was in the neighborhood doing roofing and window work and they wanted to give estimates. They did not look like they were doing any labor work and had no id's. We called the police and they were here in less then 5 minutes and stopped the people at the end of the street. We do not know what ever happened after that, if they were arrested or just given a warning to.

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