What Not To Say To A Sketchy Door-To-Door Salesman

Terry has a story that illustrates why it’s not a good idea to have a too-trusting person — say, your mom or your kids — answer your door. If the answerer has the tendency to offer up unsolicited information about when you’ll be away, he could give an unsavory caller an indication of when to rob you.

Terry writes:

My wife just called me kind of panicked.

My mom came over and while she was there somebody knocked on the door (Our front door that we never use).

My mom answered and it was a person offering to clean our carpet in 1 room for free (I am sure he was selling vacuums).

So my mom tells him no thanks and when he goes on, she tells him “This is just a really bad time because we are going out of town for the weekend”

He then sees our dog and asks what kind she is (My dog is a great big Anatolian Shepard) and she tells him how sweet she is.

After he leaves she shut the door and told my wife “I just hate people like that, they give me the creeps!”

So, now we are paranoid that when we get back, our house will be empty. (Leaving Fri and returning Tuesday. And our dog will be at a kennel)

We live in a rural area and well off the street. A robbers’ paradise.

What can we do to stack the cards back in our favor?

Terry adds that he’s considering having his parents house sit for him, but that seems too cruel. What do you do to prevent your house from being robbed while you’re away?


Edit Your Comment

  1. icntdrv says:

    I set the alarm and turn on the security lights.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Nonhelpful, obvious advice IF they had a security system. Pointless advice if they do not.

      • Griking says:

        Other than the obvious there really isn’t anything they can do.

        May as well lock the thread then I guess.

        • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

          One potentially useful thing is to contact your local police department. It’ll depend on your area, but back in ancient times when I worked there for a brief stint, they’d take requests from citizens to drive by their homes a few times if they were out of town.

          It’s not a huge hardship for them. Police officers in our city get assigned an area of town to patrol during each shift and, if things aren’t busy, end up driving around a lot anyway. Checking in on empty residences can do something good for public relations at essentially no cost.

          I’m not sure how rural the place is that the OP lives, but if they are under the jurisdiction of a local PD, it’s definitely worth being in touch with them.

    • Willow01 says:

      I remember seeing your house being robbed in Home Alone.

    • sonneillon says:

      Better advice make sure your home owners insurance includes a theft plan and pay a bit extra to protect against depreciation and enjoy yourself.

      If your house gets robbed it sucks but you’ll eventually get your money back and then you can get new stuff.

  2. rpm773 says:

    Terry adds that he’s considering having his parents house sit for him, but that seems too cruel.

    Seems like a fitting pumishment for mom and her busy mouth.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Except his WIFE talked the salesman’s ear off, not his mother.

      I highly recommend he educate his wife about why it’s important not to reveal information on your house and your whereabouts to strangers. And by educate, I of course mean beat.

      Just kidding, I mean educate.

      • rugman11 says:

        “So my mom tells him no thanks and when he goes on, she tells him “This is just a really bad time because we are going out of town for the weekend””

        Sounds like it was his mom who told them the house would be empty.

      • wasabirobot says:

        Unless things are different in your family, Mom and Wife are generally not the same person. I guess reading comprehension might not be stellar for someone who jokes about wife beating.

      • RoamingNomi says:

        Seems to me the talker was the MOM and not the wife. The wife realized that her mother-in-law had divulged the info and the wife called her husband in a panic, rather than yell at her mother-in-law.

      • RoamingNomi says:

        But yes, reading it again, it is unclear who the poster means, as he refers to “she” and doesn’t specify who “she” is. But the end consideration would indicate that the mom wouldn’t be going on the trip with them, thus the wife did the talking.

        Either way, you are right…educating “her” is the correct thing to do. Save the beatings for the robbers.

      • travel_nut says:

        The problem with having a user name like “Loias wants you to RTFA” (even if you have apparently changed that recently) is that people are far more likely to call you out if you, in fact, fail to RTFA yourself. The story clearly states “My mom answered…my mom tells him…she shut the door and told my wife…”

      • Blueskylaw says:

        “So my MOM tells him no thanks and when he goes on, she tells him “This is just a really bad time because we are going out of town for the weekend”

        You would know that if you RTFA.

    • VectorVictor says:

      Agreed. In-laws are always causing these types of problems. Punishing them is the only way to correct them of their flaws.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    Before you leave for the weekend you should leave a note on the front door saying:
    Hey Dan (or whatever name), when you come over to watch the house for the weekend, make sure none of your police friends park their cruisers in front of the house because the neighbors might think something is going on.

    • Tim says:

      Or something like “Hey Dan, when you come over to watch the house for the weekend, don’t forget that I have the machine guns set to shoot directly at the door when it opens. Just do what I told you to disarm them.”

      • Destra says:

        Fun trivia: it’s illegal in most states to set up lethal booby traps to protect a vacant property.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          It’s only illegal if the authorities know about it…or find the body.

        • Pax says:

          Who said anythign about lethal?

          Indelible dye, skunk-essence, and extremely-fine powder laced with capsacin oils. Yes,they make nonlethal rounds for normal guns, out of all three.

          Some stupid f*cker opens the door, and VVRRRRRRRTT! … they get their very own WORST. DAY. EVAR.

          Plus, the dye makes it easier for the cops to find him (if their noses don’t lead them to him already). :)

    • PSUSkier says:

      The only catch is, if the not is still on the door, Dan isn’t there yet :).

      • Blueskylaw says:

        Let Dan leave a note saying, Hey Chet (or whatever name), when you leave, make sure you turn on the alarm.

  4. obits3 says:

    Mom fail! This is not the 1950s…

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      You’re right. It’s 2010, and on a per-capita basis it’s almost as safe as it was 4 decades ago.

      We’re just more paranoid than ever, thanks to a culture of fear.

      • obits3 says:

        Maybe I’m biased because my dad had his stuff stolen 5 times in the past 10 years.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          Yikes. Bad neighborhood?

          That’s like being struck by lightning twice in the same week.

          • obits3 says:

            It was mostly kids (Middle school & High School). Their parents wouldn’t teach them not to steal. They were amateurs. One time they took a 12 year old laptop with Windows 95! Not very valuable, but it did have sentimental value… It was a simple smash in grab. They even ruined our BBQ smoker trying to climb to a window after we cut down the tree (it was a townhouse). They would have made more money working a BK! F@cking idiots…

    • Trick says:

      Had it been the 50’s, the mom would have asked the man of the house if she could asnwer the door and once permission was given to her, she would have invited the stranger in for coffee, meatloaf and mash potatoes, real milk and all the cigarettes the salesperson could handle before going to her “secret” coffee can that holds her spending cash. She really wants that vacuum for Christmas to make her husband proud.

  5. carefree dude says:

    Automated gun turrets? Robot attack sentries? Fortify the property, including a moat full of electric eels? Install various trap doors?

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    If you ask 75% of all owners of dogs that just bit/mauled someone, they will usually tell you what a sweetheart and how well behaved they are, and how they have never done anything like this before.

    As for stopping robberies, except for one, all of my doors are double keyed deadbolts except my front door, which opens onto a porch on a busy road directly across the street from a public school. I also know and talk to all my neighbors, so they also look out for things. And I also have attack kittehs!

    • jessjj347 says:

      People can break through anything…seriously even f’ing cars on the windows…Yes, I’m jaded.

    • jesirose says:

      And most dogs that people get to protect their house are worthless. The average dog is not going to attack a robber. Dogs that were sweet and then bite were provoked. A robber knows how to distract a dog not provoke it. They’ll grab some hamburger or dog treats and put the dog outside with food.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        The biggest thing that crooks hate is dogs that bark. They call attention.

        • chiieddy says:

          Except my dog. Seriously, it’s like not having anything other than a 68 lb lump of fur that enjoys sleeping all day. Retired greyhound enjoys retirement.

        • sufreak says:

          My dog only barks when someones outside the door. Once in, he just wants affection. A bulldog is a worthless guarddog. (We didn’t get him a guard dog, just saying)

  7. goodpete says:

    Depending on their location and relationship with the local police, they might be able to get a police officer to come check on the house a couple times while they are gone. We had some neighbors growing up who would do that when they went on long out-of-country trips.

    It seems unlikely that a burglar would go door to door posing as a salesman on the off chance they might hear christmas vacation plans. It’s more likely that someone might actually want to buy something from them (leading to an awkward situation).

    It would seem more typical that such a schemer would pose as a utility person or an evangelist so that people would be less guarded and there would be no expected follow-through on the burglar’s part.

    But you never can be too safe. Maybe an alarm system would make a good holiday gift to the family. :-)

    • Kitten Mittens says:

      [snark] Clearly you’ve never seen Home Alone. [/snark]

      Is it less likely that a robber would case homes this way or that there would be a guy trying to sell vacuums door-to-door in December 2010?

      • HeartBurnKid says:

        Actually, door-to-door vacuum salesmen are still fairly common. I actually did that for a few months back in 2001, and, well, the Kirby company hasn’t gone anywhere since then.

    • Mudilo says:

      +1 on police. I’d guess they’d be more likely to do that in the rural area.

      As far as it being unlikely- yes, but someone doing that job is more likely to be destitute and maybe hangs out with shady types, etc.

    • Hooray4Zoidberg says:

      Police are a good option, unfortunately most burglaries take less than 8 minutes so it would have to be some lucky timing for the police to come by while the robbery is taking place.

  8. usernameandp says:

    1) Sit down with a pen & paper.
    2) Watch “Home Alone”.
    3) Hire a house sitter. (Be sure they kno where you set the booby traps.)

  9. UnicornMaster says:

    Hi stranger, by the way, we won’t be at home this weekend. Feel free to stop by.

  10. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Let a trusted neighbors know that you are away. Put the mail on hold but not the newspaper (I don’t trust those sub minimum wage early morning types) – get a neighbor to pick it up. Lights on timers.

    When driving to the airport in a taxi have a conversation with your spouse about the relative staying at the house (taxi drivers probably chuckle when they hear that ploy so often).

  11. dolemite says:

    Now…I’m the paranoid type but…I think they are just being paranoid. He didn’t ASK if they were going out of town, she volunteered the info, and asking what kind of dog it is doesn’t mean anything.

    I’m the same way with workmen/salesmen though. I don’t want them in the house. IMO the key to preventing theft is keeping what you have secret. ANYONE can break into your house in minutes if they are determined enough. However, if everyone thinks you have nothing of value, they won’t bother.

    • FatLynn says:

      I would guess that the guy hears a constant stream of lies from people who want him to go away, and he won’t put any more stock in this one than “oh, my carpet was just installed this morning”.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      Hmm, yes.
      Anatolian shepherds are quite unique dogs.

  12. fs2k2isfun says:

    Nothing. I wouldn’t worry about it. The odds of your house being burglarized are pretty remote.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      There are an estimated 2,329,9501 annual burglaries nationwide, with an annual loss by victims of approximately $3.1 billion.

      Homes without security systems are 2.7 times more likely to be targeted by a burglar.

      A burglary takes place every 12 seconds and produces an average loss of $1,675 per event.

      This year, one in six homes will be burglarized.1 Burglars will spend no longer than 1 minute to break into a home.

      60% of residential burglaries occur during the daylight hours.

      • Rachacha says:

        Source for those sttistics?
        With over 114,000,000 households in the United States (Source US Census). Even with 2.3M burglaries in a year, that represents only about 2% of homes on an annual basis, so what fs2k2isfun said is correct, the odds are pretty low.

        • obits3 says:

          But you increase your odds by not thinking:

          #1 favorite: Telling people you will be on a vacation
          #2 favorite: Talking in front of your house about that new expensive thing you just got.
          #3 favorite: You kids telling their friends about that new expensive thing you just got.

          Lessons from the Bible:

          “Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them… Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD.” Isaiah 39

          • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

            You increase your odds of driving yourself bonkers by worrying.

            • obits3 says:

              I don’t worry about these things. I just follow simple rules. Soon enough they become second nature.

              • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

                I see no reason to not tell people I’m going on vacation. I see no reason to tell my kids to be silent because OMG SOMEONE MIGHT STEAL OUR STUFF.

                It’s easier to just lock the house, have insurance, and realize that if it happens, it happens.

                Stuff is just stuff. Tautology that may be, but it’s so much better just not worrying.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Or making a semi-spectacle of hauling that giant TV into your house.

        • Pax says:

          Notice, he put his commas one digit too far to the left: 2,329,9501

          Take the commas out, and you have: 23299501

          Put them back in,in PROPER position, and you get: 23,299,501

          So, it’s not 2.3M out of 144M homes … it’s really 23.3M out of 144M homes. And 6 x 23.3 is 139.8, within spitting distance of 144.

      • fs2k2isfun says:

        And that’s still pretty remote. I would also hazard a guess that burglaries tend to be centered in certain areas, not evenly distributed through all zip codes.

      • fs2k2isfun says:

        And that’s still pretty remote. I would also hazard a guess that burglaries tend to be centered in certain areas, not evenly distributed through all zip codes.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        Jim from ADT? Is that you! Howdy! That restaurant you recommended to the new folks in town was great; thanks!

        Seriously, though, 1 in 6 homes?! Baloney. I think the 6 in 6 crackhouses might be throwing the math off.

      • shepd says:

        And the fact that burglars only spend 1 minute stealing your stuff is why having an alarm is worthless. I had one on my store that went off twice. Neither time was due to a break-in (one time was due to the business partner’s father in law not having a clue how to disarm it, but having a key to the door, the other time was because a portable heater set it off).

        The first time the cops NEVER came AT ALL, as far as I could tell (I waited 15 minutes, just to make sure). The second time I decided to see how long it would take the cops to come (I had already called ADT and told them it was a false alarm, but they said they’d already called the cops 30 minutes ago so it was too late). 15 minutes later (45 minutes total) a cruiser with a single officer pulls up. When asked about it, he says that burglar alarms get the lowest priority of all in their system, and that 45 minutes is actually pretty reasonable (Sometimes it takes them hours). This is in a reasonably sized city (Metro population is over 1/2 million).

        In 45 minutes, a crew of burglars could have loaded a 24 foot U-Haul with everything in the store, and maybe even stolen the fixtures, too.

        We decided to turn off the monitoring after that. At least the alarm might scare them off, but ADT calling the police was worthless and just embarrassing.

        So, if you care about this sort of thing, just buy the cheapest alarm you can get from wherever alarms are sold and do not invest in monitoring, IMHO.

    • falnfenix says:

      that depends on your area. in mine, telling a stranger you’ll be out of town is equivalent to leaving all doors unlocked and open with a sign on the roof inviting people inside.

  13. Marlin says:

    How about talking to your neighbors?

    Tell them that is they see anyone in/near the house to call the police right away.

  14. koali says:

    This reminds me of the time something similar happened to my grandfather. They live in an older house so the meter for the gas is inside the house and you have to let the person come in. The gas company generally sends out notice in the bill on their visits. The day that they were supposed to come, someone rings the bell and says he’s checking the meter. My grandfather lets him in, but he got scared because their dog suddenly started barking. Thing to note that the dog never barks, he’s pretty friendly. So the guys quickly left. They didn’t think about it too much, but then later in the afternoon, another meter person arrives. My grandfather tells him that someone already came, and turns out that the first person was most likely trying to rob them but got scared.

    Lesson learned.. ALWAYS check their credentials. In my previous house, we also had to let people in, and I always ask for ID first. Sure they can probably forge some IDs, but you never know.

    If I was in the person’s shoes, I would have said No Thank you and shut the door. You can’t always be nice to people. I’d set the alarm as well. Put your tv and lights on a timer. Have you neighbors/parents come by and quickly check up.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Whoah! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the robber came on the same day. They must have access to appointment info somehow…I wouldn’t be surprised if from an insider at the gas company of if that person works for the company.

  15. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Put a “no soliciting of any kind” sign on the drive way & front door. It works for me but apparently Jehovah Witnesses don’t read anything except their tracts and holy book .

    • Jchamberlain says:

      Answer the door naked. Problem solved.

    • varro says:

      Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t go door-to-door….they do drive-bys at the bus stops near my house. I just had one earlier this week…

    • LuckyLady says:

      The Jehovah’s Witnesses in my area claim going door-to-door asking people to come to their place of worship isn’t soliciting. After arguing it with them, I now just call the cops on them because it’s posted that there is no soliciting in my neighborhood.

  16. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I don’t answer the door for people I don’t know/am not expecting. That solves the problem right there.

    • Azzizzi says:

      If I’m not expecting someone, I answer the door with a handgun behind the door. My friends have told me they can hear me chamber a round just before opening the door.

      • cash_da_pibble says:

        wow, where the hell do you live?
        I don’t chamber a round (don’t have a gun)
        But I have been known to scramble for pots and knives when unexpecteds call, while barking like my dog.

        • Azzizzi says:

          Orange County, California. I don’t think it’s very dangerous, but every year, there are those stories of the home invasion/take-over robbers and incidents where people pretend to be the police.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        What a lovely welcome!

  17. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Are there security alarms they can purchase that are mostly for show and not hooked into the police system?

    I think there are some devices you can buy that will go off if the door is opened or window broken. They are jsut for show, but a robber probably wouldn’t take the chance.

  18. Skittl1321 says:

    This may not work for a rural area, but I live in a small city and we can schedule police to drive by and check on our house daily.

  19. PsiCop says:

    I don’t think making the parents house-sit is “cruel,” under the circumstances.

    • Brie says:

      I agree. OP sounds concerned about a home invasion that harms his parents on top of any actual theft. But if they’re thieves, they probably just want to steal your stuff. They want quick and easy. Seeing people in the house when they thought it would be empty would probably be enough deterrent.


      P.S. I know a senior citizen who would do the exact.same.thing as OP’s mom. I tried talking to her about it once, and she responded with “Oh! People wouldn’t do that.”

    • Dover says:

      Can’t believe it took so long for someone to say this. Are their parents really going to mind spending a few days at their house?

    • Destra says:

      It depends on the age of the parents, I suppose. I don’t know that I would ask my 85 year old mother to stay in my house if I was worried about possible thieves coming in. My 40 year old cousin on the other hand….

    • Destra says:

      It depends on the age of the parents, I suppose. I don’t know that I would ask my 85 year old mother to stay in my house if I was worried about possible thieves coming in. My 40 year old cousin on the other hand….

      • colorisnteverything says:

        I would trust my 85 year old grandma over my 40 year old cousin. She may look frail and petite, but she grew up on a farm with 10 siblings and had to fight for everything. Cousin is not particularly trustworthy.

  20. jessjj347 says:

    I would hire someone to house sit your dog and not bring it to the kennel. That would possibly even save you money, while bringing added security.

  21. Destra says:

    I’m very careful about who I tell that I’m going away for a time. I don’t post on social network sites, only informing people who need to know by email. And I’m always paranoid when I take a taxi to the airport from my house. In the taxi I always drop a hint that says that someone’s house or pet sitting while I’m away.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Isn’t it a lot of work to worry about this stuff?

      Prevention is great and all, but it’s easy to just have insurance, an alarm or something, lock the doors, and not worry so much. It’s just stuff. Yeah, it sucks if it gets stolen, but it’s better than looking over your shoulder all the time.

      • George4478 says:

        Don’t tell strangers my business OR deal with police and making a homeowner’s claim and replace all the stolen stuff and repair the damage from the breakin and find a new insurance agent when they drop your policy for making a claim.

        Which one is more work?

        I just keep my mouth shut. Granted, as my wife will confirm, that takes more effort that she would like.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      The taxi driver probably doesn’t know where you live unless you are getting picked up at your house, try getting picked up at a nearby public place that you can walk to like a corner store.

  22. Rachacha says:

    Timers on the lights and radio and or TV. Make sure to get the ones that randomly turn on (if you set the timer for 5:30, it will turn on anywhere between 5:15 and 5:45 and change the start time daily.

    Call the local police station and advise them that you will be out of town and ask them if they could send an officer by to check the house periodically.

    If you always park your vehicles the same way every night when you get home, change it up a bit the week before you are going away, Park your cars in different locations and in different directions then you normally do. If you normally park your vehicles in the garage, leave one out in the driveway.

    Place webcams or security cameras in conspicuious locations around the exterior of the house. Have the cameras upload photos to a website or e-mail them to you you if there is a break-in Combine that with motion sensing lights. A thief will likely avoid a property that has video surveillance and good lighting, but if they do break in, at least you have a record of who broke in.

    If you live in an area that snows, make sure to hire someone to shovel your driveway and walkway for you, or at a minimum, drive into your driveway a couple times and walk to the front door and back

    Failing that, rig the house with paint cans hanging from ropes, grease the front steps with lard, and heat the doorknobs with a blowtorch.

  23. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    I don’t understand why people always feel the need to explain why they are declining a product/service/donation. Just say “No thanks” and move on.

  24. maruawe says:

    Why would anyone in their right mind tell a stranger that they were going away for the weekend. DUH
    Door to door are flaky enough already without your giving them ideas. Our front door and patio door have laser remotes to aim a shot gun on a turret that sits in the middle of the room, so let them come in , the only way to disarm the turret is on my key chain and is solar charged. Thanks ardino

    • thekevinmonster says:

      Why would anyone post their phone number and address on their facebook page, along with pictures of them doing alcohol/drugs while underage/even though their boss is their ‘friend’/etc etc etc?

      Just because I refuse to give door to door salespeople the time of day doesn’t mean someone who talks to them is crazy. It just means they treat their sense of privacy/safety differently than other people.

      Related note: I had an AT&T long distance sales person yell at me when I told him to leave my porch. I closed the door and he started yelling. Freaked my partner out since he was privy to the whole thing.

      Related note 2: My next door neighbor has a new job as a direct marketing person and wants to practice on me. I haven’t decided if I am going to humor him for real practice, or just be demure about it. (I’m letting him give me his spiel anyway.) In reality, he wouldn’t get past my doormat.

  25. Southern says:

    I would definitely get a house sitter. We’ve done that a few times. It’s worth the peace of mind while you’re on vacation to not have to worry about what’s going on at home, is everything ok, etc..

  26. SalesGeek says:

    Teach your dog to shoot.

  27. travel_nut says:

    This is why I always have a gun when I open the door for strangers. It indicates to them that if you fark with me, you get shot, and most of them don’t want to take that risk. Paranoid? Yeah, probably.

    • dolemite says:

      I just sit on my front porch with a shotgun in a rocking chair, and if anyone steps on my property, I go “click clack”.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Or exactly where to run during a smash-and-grab.

    • obits3 says:

      I always have my crossbow /sarc

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      And how do you protect your home when you aren’t there to fondle Lil’ Shooty?

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Do you also carry your firearm with you everywhere you go, just in case someone, somewhere, someday, sometime decides to mess with you?

      Isn’t it just that much easier to… not worry so much?

      • travel_nut says:

        Meh, probably, but I’m paranoid about my house getting broken into.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          You have homeowners insurance, right? You lock your doors and windows, right? You have an alarm, right? You put valuables and non-replaceables in places that are safe, right?

          Then stop worrying. The rest is just stuff. Stuff can be replaced. You only get one sanity.

          • obits3 says:

            Stuff can be replaced, but going all rambo over a home invader is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

            • travel_nut says:

              Exactly :) we even have a little loft/ledge thing facing the front door that would be perfect for sniping an intruder.

          • Pax says:

            Not all stuff can be replaced. Childhood photographs (from pre-digital days).

            For example, a good friend of mine lost his father at the end of October – and the man was a WW2 veteran. The flag from his graveside service is most certainly in the “not replaceable” category!

            And there’s always the simple feeling of violation that arises from discoveirng your home has been brokeninto, and a stranger has gone through your things.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      If I was a salesman I would start a conversation about your gun, how you like it, if you want to sell it and presto, before you know it, I sold you an insurance policy while you’re scratching your head wondering what just happened.

    • threefirsts says:

      I’ve answered the door with a gun before. It’s definitely a security blanket. But I don’t advertise the fact that I’m armed. I usually keep it hidden in a pocket. Here are my thoughts on this:

      a) The person knocking on my door probably isn’t a robber, so there’s no sense needlessly scaring him/her.

      b) If the person IS a burglar, he’s probably casing the house and isn’t planning on kicking down the door and robbing me while I’m actually there.

      c) If you want to show that you’re being vigilant around your property, take down their license number and make sure they know you’re taking it down. Snap a picture if you want.

      d) A gun is something worth stealing. If the person knocking at your door is planning on robbing you while you’re not in the house and if this person knows you have firearms, they’re gonna target them. My family once lost, by my count, three expensive guns during a home invasion that occurred while we were away.

  28. AngryK9 says:

    I suggest that you contact Mcauley Calkin and ask him to come over and house sit for you.

    Seriously though, you would either need to have a trusted friend or relative to come over and house sit for you, or you would need to beg the local police to keep an eye on the place. You may not actually have to beg the police…but they can only do so much and can’t positively garantee anything. Most likely, a house sitter is your best choice.

  29. tbax929 says:

    On a somewhat related note, I recently moved into a brand new house in a new development, and the amount of door-to-door salespeople that call on me is ridiculous. They don’t give a damn about a “No Soliciting” sign. I have alarm folks, meat-selling people, water testers, garbage contractors, and everyone else coming to my door. I never had this problem in my apartment complex.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      I really don’t understand the door-to-door meat thing. How many people buy meat of uncertain provenance from the back of a pickup truck?? I’m not talking Schwann’s, these are generic pickup trucks with a freezer in the back.

      The nice thing about having a biggish dog that freaks out when someone knocks on the door is that in the unlikely event that people ARE casing houses, they’ll probably remember mine as the one there that dog was trying to get at them.

    • brinks says:

      Same here. Never had so many visitors anywhere else. I see Jehovah’s witnesses quite a bit, as well as those college kids who are collecting for environmental causes. Time Warner also knocks on my door, as well as kids selling candy for fundraisers. I also got a knock on the door encouraging me to vote Democrat this past mid-term election. I only actually answered the door for the last one (I couldn’t identify the guy as any of the other solicitors and I thought maybe he was a neighbor). Being possibly the only liberal in the neighborhood, I’m glad I gave the guy a ray of hope.

      But as a woman, I only answer the door when my former military sharp-shooter fiance is here.

  30. Warchik81 says:

    In a lot of places, the local police department has a list (especially during the holidays) of homes that will be vacant. They then make the rounds looking for anything suspicious. Be sure to tell them which lights you will be leaving on, as they make note of that as well. It’s worth giving them a call if you are that worried about it. Otherwise, have a friend come over to “water the plants” once a day.

  31. Mama Mayhem says:

    Automatic light timers, try to leave a car in the driveway, and if you don’t have a security systems, buy or borrow one of the signs that says “protected by blah de blah”. I read somewhere that just having a security sign can help deter burglars (not as much as an actual security system but in a pinch….)

  32. SG-Cleve says:

    Leave a car parked in the driveway as if someone is visiting.

    If you are north, make sure the snow is plowed or shoveled, or have someone drive in and out a few times to leave fresh tire tracks in the snow.

  33. Scribblenerd says:

    Just because one mom was clueless, and so are some kids, it’s no excuse to stereotype them as “too trusting.” Come on, this is the 21st century, and we moms tend to take offense.

  34. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I think this is a good time to remind people that “No” is a complete sentence and No Soliciting signs are not illegal, despite what one door to door sales person tried to tell me late one evening a few months back.

  35. Anda T says:

    Take what you can’t replace with you and make sure your insurance policy is up to date and covers any and all large ticket purchases.

    • GameHen says:

      and rent a storage unit for the time you’re gone and put the stuff that you don’t want to lose there (i.e. tv’s, computers, jewelry, etc…)

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        Umm… isn’t that an awful lot of money and work for a remote possibility?

        I mean, given that you can get burglarized any time, isn’t it better to simply store everything you own in a giant steel vault. I mean, just in case. To be sure.

  36. I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

    No one is amazed at the fact that people are still selling door-to-door? Especially vacuums?

  37. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I set up timers on lights and have a neighbor clear off any advertisements left at the door.

    I don’t tell complete strangers that I am leaving home. Actually, I almost never answer the door when someone knocks or rings the bell. Exception for girl scouts selling cookies.

    I used to call out “who is it” when I lived in an apartment because I would answer the door if it was a neighbor who needed some help. I had to quit that practice when someone said he was one of my neighbors and he was lying. He wanted to sell me magazines and said he was from “the neighborhood” and maybe I had seen him walking his dog. I said I did not know him and did not consider him one of my neighbors. I told him to step away from me because he was standing too close and shut the door on him.

  38. chiieddy says:

    We have the cat sitter in every couple of days to clear the mail. The front lights on automatic timer and we leave one back hall light on.

  39. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It’s been my experience that when shady people go door-to-door, they want to see who is home at that instant. If you aren’t home, then they’ll break in. If you are, they’ll make up some BS excuse like selling vacuums or mowing yards.

    The last thing in the world that they want is to meet you, arouse suspicion, and then come back a few days later.

  40. cys_av8r says:

    Mount a 12ga shotgun with 00 Buck in it pointing directly at the front door. Rig a pully system with a rope to the door knob, the other end tied to the trigger. Problem solved. : )

  41. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    OK, maybe I’m just a big fat target, but isn’t this a lot of worrying over a remote possibility?

    It reminds me of people who sweat the time in an airplane but have no qualms about the drive to the airport. The family’s more likely to lose something valuable traveling than get robbed.

    But then again, a giant meteor might crash into Earth while they travel, so that’s something else to worry about.

    • obits3 says:

      “The family’s more likely to lose something valuable traveling than get robbed.”

      True, but there are at least two parts to the equation:

      Risk of Loss X Value of items at risk = Appropriate effort level to protect

      Air travel:

      Higher risk X less value = A


      Lower risk X MUCH greater value = H

      H is usually greater than A overall. Thus, put more effort into protecting the home.

  42. smbizowner says:

    Call your relatives/friends/church friends etc and find a college student who is home for the holidays.

    stock the frig with their favorite non alcoholic beverages and frozen junk foods.

    invite them to stay over for the weekend and also watch the dog paying them what you would have paid the kennel to keep the dog.

  43. threefirsts says:

    My parents live out in the country and people have broken in before. They’ve caught a few people wandering around the property, ostensibly to case it.

    I don’t know how realistic it is to have a police officer do a check-in. Part of the problem (besides the fact that they’re understaffed and probably have better things to do than home check-ins) is one of jurisdiction. The police claim rural areas on the outskirts of town should be patrolled by the county sheriff. The county sheriff says it should be patrolled by the city police. That sort of crap. Don’t know if this is a problem where Terry lives.

    Definitely invest in a burglar alarm.

    Instead of boarding your dog, consider hiring someone to feed and walk her. That way, you’ll also have someone you trust checking in two times a day.

    Of course, that can backfire: if you hire people to feed your animals AND have a burglar alarm, make sure they’re familiar with how it works. One time a bunch of meth heads broke into the house and stole our birth certificates because the lady we hired to feed our dogs set off the alarm, but didn’t re-arm it afterward. Annoying. Definitely didn’t use her service again.

    Another thing to do is buy a fake TV light. It costs about $30 and when you turn it on at night, it seems as if people are at home and frying their brains on Leno or some such. It’s a tiny deterrent, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Also, it seems like Terry needs a quick-fix given his schedule.

  44. Hotscot says:

    I have nothing of great value in my house apart from my data so I always hide my external drives when I leave for a trip.
    Seriously, I don’t keep money, jewelery or anything like that. If the took the flat screen, (6 years old), and the computers themselves it would be no great hardship. Most of my financial assets are in investments etc.

    I would just hope they’d be in and out fast and wouldn’t cause too much damage.
    I would of course feel violated but that’s another issue.

  45. jiarby says:

    “Sorry… I do not have time to visit with you. I am in the middle of cleaning my 9mm Glock which still a little dirty from last week when I shot that poor boy that tried to break in.. “

    Or… tell him to vacuum the door mat… it is the dirtiest carpet in the house. You will check it later after he leaves and see how you like it.

  46. odan says:

    simple , setup a web cam pointed at say the living room , have it to set to movement activation, download any of the numerous free webcam programs for showing your webcam online , start a private feed so you can watch from any internet enabled device including your iphone or android phone.
    Should be able to even make it give you a warning when the webcam is activated.
    Its very easy to do , even easier to setup , and requires a few cheap products.
    That or make sure you have good insurance

  47. DcChick says:

    Every so often people will come knock on the door and ask to mow the lawn. Usually the mower they’re pushing (if they even make the effort) looks like a rusted hunk of junk. They usually inquire about the dog as well and I always tell them to “not get too close, he might bite” even tho he’s never bitten before in his life. He does have a scary bark, so that ruse usually works.
    I always wonder how many times they come by and knock when we’re not here. The dog barks, scaring them off. Well on Monday we ran an errand and took the dog with us. Someone kicked in the front door and stole everything of value…they went through every room. The worst part, my partner and I had decided to give our Christmas to my sister’s children. She’s having a hard time and I know it’s been bad for the kids. They took every single gift, about 99% was kids clothes. It just makes me sick to think about it.

    So my advice for this guy is:
    Make sure your insurance is up to date. You can’t do anything to deter a thief. If he wants your stuff, he’ll get it. Just make sure you can get it back once it’s gone.

    • hammond egger says:

      You can’t do anything to deter a thief? I can do plenty to deter a thief.

      • DcChick says:

        Sure you can slow them down, but stop them? Nah. You’re not going to be home 24/7, and for a determined thug there’s always a way into your house.

  48. Outrun1986 says:

    A good tip is not to let too many people into your house in the first place. Some people here like to hold lavish house parties with a lot of guests who bring other guests. Not surprisingly these are the houses that tend to get broken into (the houses that are in the better section of town as well). Some people also let random friends of their kids come into their house, well these kids then pass on the info about what you have onto their parents (or the parents see all the expensive stuff when they come to pick up the kids), and you know the rest. This is obviously a recipe for trouble as you don’t really know who is coming into your house or what intentions they have.

    Try not to have your 60 inch flat screen TV that you paid 3k for in view of the door if possible. Curtains and blinds are a good thing because on at least 2 of my neighbors houses you can see exactly what they are watching on TV (or what video game they are playing) right from the window through whatever kind of see through curtains they have when you drive by. You can also see that they indeed have a very, very large television. To me this is just asking for trouble.

  49. qualityleashdog says:

    Let me confirm everyone’s worst fears of door-to-door sales people…


    When this one found out the children were home alone, his interest in making a sales pitch changed to an interest in a different pitch.

    • qualityleashdog says:

      Wish there was an edit button…Meant to add: So even if you’re an adult male or woman, not home alone, not planning on leaving the house anytime soon, and you didn’t reveal anything to the sales people to encourage them to rob or assault you, you should still call the local authorities to report the peddlers and make sure they are acting in agreement with local laws and ordinances. The peddler may be fishing to find out if they can get a little girl, home alone, to answer the door, and they may find it at the next house they stop at. CALL THE POLICE!
      Especially call the sheriff if you are in a rural, sparsely populated area, since it is not efficient to spend the gas and time hitting those houses to make a sale, but is a great place to fish for isolated victims that are in low traffic areas that will have a long response time if and when someone calls the police.

  50. CentralScrutinizer says:

    If it’s sold door-to-door, it’s a scam.

    At best, the product is grossly overpriced (like a $2000 vacuum cleaner that works no better than a $200 unit), or is being sold via ethically questionable means (like “student handbooks” sold by the salesperson’s insinuation that he or she or the product is affiliated with the school district.) At worst, the “salesperson” is using the so-called sales call to get you to open the door to commit a home invasion, rape, or future burglary.

    Street-Smart Tip #1: You are not legally or morally obligated to open your door to strangers!

    “But they’ll think I’m paranoid.” So? 9 times out of 10, the salesperson isn’t harmful, but the 10th time is a bitch. Besides, it’s not your responsibility to take that chance!

    • Rachacha says:

      “If it’s sold door-to-door, it’s a scam.”

      I think the Avon lady and the Girl Scouts would disagree with you.

      “Street-Smart Tip #1: You are not legally or morally obligated to open your door to strangers!”

      This is true, and I suppose that how you react to strangers at your door depends on the time of day and where you live. If you are paranoid when someone knocks on your door, are you the type of person that runs inside and draws all of the curtains when a stranger is walking down the street while you are outside doing yardwork?

  51. keepher says:

    What a major screw up. Living in the back of beyond myself I know how bad its gotten when they have a clue you’re not at home. A neighbor, neighbors here are 1/4 mi. away, had his place emptied one day while he was at work. People are having their homes broken in to while at church.

    Have an established pattern of coming and going and nothing short of hiring an armed guard while you’re gone is going to keep them away if you’re a target.

  52. racshot65 says:

    Not answering the door isn’t always the best idea

    About a year ago I was home alone and someone knocked the door, I ignored it as I wasn’t expecting anyone and carried on watching TV

    5 minutes later two guys were in the back yard trying to open the backdoor

    If I answered the door they would probably have realised someone was home and f***** off

  53. shthar says:

    Not having anything anyone else would consider worth stealing has always worked for me.

  54. EBounding says:

    Here’s a tip: never accept something being offered “for free” when someone knocks on your door (like a roll of paper towels, a newspaper, a free cleaning etc.). If you do this, you’ll subconciously think you ‘owe’ this person something. The soliciter will make you feel this way too.

    I’ve had kids hand me a “free” newspaper, and then ask that I subscribe to it or buy an entertainment book. When I say no, they ask for the newspaper back! I also made the smae mistake with a vacuum cleaner salesman. I decided it wasn’t a good idea before they could get to cleaning. They took the “free” roll of paper towels back.

    So not accepting anything makes it a lot easier to say no.

  55. MarvinMar says:

    I’m to OP.
    Mom did the talking.
    Dad couldn’t believe MOM said that.
    They came by my house around noon. Then appeared at my mother in laws house at about 7:20pm
    My wife happened to be at the house and she opened the door. (We all live next door to each other. Mom 2 door to my left, Mom in law behind me) She told them they were not interested and got a description of the guy.
    Turns out there were 3 people (2 waiting in the old beat up 15 passenger van.

    She then called the sheriff and told them what happened, to which he said “She may have well just handed him the keys to the place”
    Sheriff also said they had received a lot of calls about them and will be sending a car out.
    They want to “Talk” to them. (I guess they gave the creepy vibe to many other people)

    I had to run out and return a redbox and on my way back I saw the van, and was able to get the license plate number.
    If something should happen, at least there will be a few people around to give a good description.

    Also, Most of my portable electronics will now be going on vacation with me.
    (And now my house will be safe and my car will be stolen)

  56. ninabi says:

    People at my door? Put a face mask on. Say you are too busy caring for infectious, contagious people. Might want to step away from the door, sir. I don’t know if I disinfected enough after that projectile vomiting incident coming back from the hospital. But, while you’re here, does it smell like diarrhea to you?

    Funny, salespeople never really stick around…

  57. lucky13 says:

    Is it Terry who thinks having his parents housesit is too cruel or just Phil? I’m not sure waterboarding his mom would be too cruel…but housesitting certainly isn’t. Thankfully, my mom is smarter about that kind of thing than Terry’s mom.

  58. varro says:

    Worse than that was a security system salesperson who started asking questions about our house’s security system….do you think I’m stupid enough to tell him that?

    I told him to “Get off my property” in a voice that insinuated that if he was still there, I’d have a shotgun pointed at him.

  59. Frank From Virginia says:

    I never let my in-laws in my house.

  60. tooluser says:

    There’s no cure for stupid.

    But paranoid they can deal with.

  61. sopmodm14 says:

    robbers will knock/ring door bells to ask innocent questions, like, door-door selling or feigning lost traveler asking for directions just to see who’s home.

    your neighbors might be the best safeguard

  62. BradenR says:

    Why do so many people think they have to answer the door? If a stranger appears, they can read the posted message. “If you aren’t expected, we may or may not be at home” Please announce your presence or leave a message after pressing the second doorbell button; the red one” Than I ignore 99 percent of the door bell ringers. Of course winter is great as I won’t shovel the four feet of snow covering the walk. I’m still waiting for answering machine, security camera combo to show up on the market.

  63. PortlandBeavers says:

    Don’t answer the door unless you are expecting someone. I bought my place three years ago. The doorbell didn’t work. I haven’t gotten it fixed yet. Nobody can tell when I’m home just by ringing the doorbell.

  64. TampaShooters says:

    I pay for an alarm system, with cellular backup.

  65. misslisa says:

    1. Move to a guard-gated community. It’s affordable if you’re willing to live waaaaay on the outskirts of town (well, to me it is). Since living here, I’ve had only one salesman in 6 years, and there have been zero break-ins in our section of the subdivision. Of course our houses are the smallest and least lavish in the community, so that may be part of the theft deterrent.

    2. For those of you in the Southwest: Plant large, angry cacti in front of all your windows! Even with a hatchet, I don’t think a bad guy wants to risk a saguaro falling on him to break in and attack me.