Peddlers push the limit - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Peddlers push the limit

January 30, 2007

Anderson City--  Peddlers are pushing the limit in some South Georgia counties. Many people are now terrified in their homes after a string of bizarre run-ins with people looking for a quick buck.

The problem has gone on for several weeks now and it may be a growing one. It's been happening in at least two counties, Colquitt and Worth. Some peddlers knock on the door asking for work.  Others just ask for money. Either way, the law says they're looking to cash in on someone's sympathy.

It's a problem that's reached small, unincorporated Anderson City. "They're doing nothing but scaring folks and keeping them awake at night," said Bridget Wingate.

It happened to Bridget Wingate.  She was asleep and heard loud, furious knocking on her bedroom window.

"I thought I was dreaming at first," said Wingate. It was real and frightening.  The person then moved from the bedroom window to her back door.  The banging continued.  Wingate called 911 and he left. But about 20 minutes later, another car came. This time, the person came to the front door.

"He beat on it and he said hey, hey, is anybody home? It's an emergency. I need some money," said Wingate.

A peddler making house calls at odd times of the day and night. Wingate says sometimes it's a car full and some people in her neighborhood and around South Georgia have fallen for a variety of stories.

"My mom is in the hospital. I need gas. My wife had to get stitches in her hand and I need money to get her medication," said Wingate. The peddlers have reached Funston, Doerun, Rose Hill and Norman Park, all small communities.

They ask for money then sometimes come back again. Neighbors have collected a long list of people they've reached.

"Why waste your time going out begging for money when you can go out and get a job?," asks Wingate. Wingate has many questions but most of all she's afraid.

"Something needs to be done," said Wingate. She hopes the No Trespassing signs she recently put up will be enough to keep the late-night, early-morning peddlers away from her home.

Here's the problem.  Law enforcement says it's not against the law for someone to knock on your door and ask for money. It is against the law however if they use a lie to get money from you.  They can then be charged with theft by deception.

Therefore, you are not advised to give these people money and if they come to your door, call the police. That way they can be in route and to your home possibly before the peddler leaves. Colquitt County officials say 2 or 3 groups are going around. They believe the men and women are using the money to support drug habits.

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