Here’s the situation. A rash of burglaries coinciding somewhat with good weather and a surge of door-to-door solicitors has Islanders on edge. Many are hoping for an ordinance to limit or control solicitors on the Island. Such a law, they say, would bring a better sense of security to the Island.
Would it? Hard to say. Some have suggested that solicitors register at City Hall and carry some sort of license or photo ID. But, it seems that many who wish to flaunt the law anyway would not bother to comply. How could they even be informed? Even if they are, they could simply profess ignorance. And having to check in with the city may or may not deter solicitors from being aggressive, rude or scary.
Police say burglaries are not related to solicitors. Chief Holmes says that only one burglary in the past 10 years has been traced to a person posing as a solicitor. Nearly all burglaries, police say, are crimes of opportunity. Those who break into homes look for the easy way — eyeballing if people are at home or not, then checking for unlocked doors. Criminals are looking for loot, not confrontation.
A new ordinance with any teeth will invite scrutiny by those who insist that it is a limit on the constitutional right of free speech. Such a law could invite potential lawsuits — costing our city time and money. A discussion about whether an ordinance might pass muster this time in terms of its constitutionality due to the possibility of different judges is simply conjecture. Again, how much city money would it take to find the answer to that question?
Placing a ‘No Solicitors’ sign is certainly the easiest and most expeditious way to send unwanted people away before they get to your front door. If a person does knock anyway or act suspicious, don’t answer the door, and call police. With or without a sign, police say to call them if you feel threatened or uncomfortable with a situation.
No one wants to post such a sign. No one wants to lock their doors just to run to the grocery or pick up the kids from soccer. No one wants to look over their shoulder. But those simple steps can stop a bad situation from happening before it even starts.