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Palo Alto Daily News

Third solicitor crime reported

This story ran: Thursday, Jan. 22, Page 1

A magazine salesman allegedly attacked a 17-year-old girl in her Menlo Park home yesterday, the third crime by door-to-door solicitors reported in the past week.

Los Altos police nabbed another out-of-town magazine salesman on Monday after he allegedly assaulted a resident. And Palo Alto police last week arrested one for breaking into a home and stealing credit cards.

³If you have a guy at the front door, and he looks like a magazine solicitor, maybe you donıt want to open the door,² warned Sgt. John Hughmanick, spokesman for Los Altos police.

The magazine sales teams come from as far away as Illinois and Michigan. They are dropped off in middle-class neighborhoods and aggressively peddle magazines using varying sales pitches. ³They are often recruited from disadvantaged people in the inner cities,² Hughmanick said.

In the latest incident, a 17-year-old girl opened the front door to a magazine solicitor off Woodland Avenue in Menlo Park at about 2 p.m. yesterday. The suspect entered the house and attempted to remove the girlıs pants, according to police. He was described as a heavy set black male, in his early 20s, with two gold front teeth. He was wearing a red jacket, perhaps with some blue, and may also have been wearing a tie.

A man of similar description was reported by neighbors to have knocked on other doors in the vicinity.

On Monday, another traveling magazine solicitor allegedly assaulted a Los Altos man after being invited into the home for a soft drink, Hughmanick said. The solicitor was working in the 400 block of Rinconada Court about 7:30 p.m. He approached a woman resident, who refused to buy magazines, said Hughmanick. ³The guy complained about being thirsty and hungry, and sheıs a good Samaritan, so she offers him a soda,² Hughmanick said.

Her husband then came to the door and brushed off the solictorıs renewed sales pitch. ³The solicitor became more agitated, shoved the resident on the chest with his hands, and told the resident he was going to break his face, and made menacing gestures,² Hughmanick said.

Police located the salesman, who worked for a company called Unified Stars, of Michigan City, Mich., with other solicitors in a van with out-of-state license plates. The suspect was identified as Torrance Fox, 22, of Pittsburgh, Penn., and was charged with battery and making criminal threats. He was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose.

On Jan. 15, Palo Alto police arrested a parolee working with a traveling magazine sales team after he allegedly burglarized a Palo Alto customerıshome. The suspect, Joshua Ray Ferreira, 23, of Oregon, was caught after he allegedly used the card to buy Caltrain tickets, then sell them for cash at the University Avenue station.

When arrested, Ferreira allegedly had in his possession mail stolen from a Southern California home several days before.

Copyright 2004 Palo Alto Daily News All rights reserved.
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Palo Alto Daily News

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner.
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