Bizarre Late Night Solicitation – Reason for Concern?

“Dear PoPville,

We live near 14th and T, and we had a strange solicitation Monday night that was a bit disconcerting. Shortly after 11pm, a woman rang our doorbell. When we asked who it was, the woman said, “I’d like to say a prayer for your business.” We said, “We’re not interested,” and she left. Immediately afterwards, I heard a car speed off, though that could be coincidental. My husband went outside to see if she’d left anything or if she was knocking on a neighbor’s door, but she was gone.

Obviously, our home is in no way related to a place of business, so this is perplexing. We are wondering whether anyone else has encountered this woman, and if so, has there been any follow up incident? We can’t make heads or tails of it, and we are wondering whether to be concerned in any way.”

28 Comment

  • Most likely a mistake or a reality-disconnect.
    Possibly a burglary casing, which you averted by responding (this is why you don’t pretend you’re not home.)

    • Yeah, I was going to say it might be casing in advance of a burglary — although this is the first I’ve ever heard of someone using prayer as an excuse! (Seems like usually the person says “Is _____ here?” or “Wrong house” or something.)
      If something like this happens again, best to report it to the police, in case it is fact someone checking to see who’s home.

      • Actually, it wouldn’t hurt to report it to the police now, even if it’s 12 hours after the fact. If it was someone casing, they might be back in the area tonight.

      • She could have been trying to make herself seem safe enough that they’d actually open the door, and then rob them.

    • Is answering really the recommended approach? If I didn’t have a large dog (I’m happy for potential burglars to have a look at him and see how they like their chances), my instinct would be not to open up on the theory that they might decide I/my house look like I have good electronics.

      • You don’t have to open the door or even answer it from behind the glass/curtain/security door, but it’s recommended that you do something to indicate that you’re there, like turning on a light.
        If you can talk to the person through the closed door (where he/she can’t see you), that might be the best approach.

      • You have to make your presence known, but you don’t have to (and really shouldn’t) actually open the door. I call out, but I don’t let them see in. It sounds like the letter-writer was in the same situation. To hunker down and ignore someone at your door is to risk having them assume the house is empty and break in, with you there. And that’s the stuff of nightmares.

    • This is really the best advice. I was living with a good friend for a few months and during the day while the friend was at work, two men came to the door and rang the doorbell. I ignored it because it was not my house and I presumed they were soliciting something, but also did not make it known I was in the house. A few minutes later they were at the backdoor trying to break in. If I had at least gone to the door and told them I was not interested in whatever story they concocted, they probably would have moved on.

  • This is really sketchy. At 11pm? Glad you didn’t open the door. I left for work the other day at 6am and there were two guys at my gate, clearly casing the block. I waited a bit and when I went back out, they were down the street- one at my neighbor’s door, the other looking into a car. I will NEVER open my door to anyone. Sorry, Girl Scouts.

    • tonyr

      At 11 p.m you should have responded “Don’t say a prayer for me now, save it ’til the morning after”

    • Did you call the police? The people you saw may not have been breaking any laws (yet), but MPD might send a car to casually drive by, which in turn could alert the sketchy people that this block might not be an easy target.
      I definitely attribute the lack of property crime on my block to some awesome elderly neighbors and stay at home parents who keep their eyes open and don’t hesitate to call something in.

      • +1. This was one of the things that was recommended in the Neighborhood Watch/Crime Prevention training session that I went to earlier in the week.

  • binpetworth

    Something similarly odd happened to me a few months back. Around 5 pm a guy parked, ran up to my door, and rang the bell several times. I did not even go near answering it; then he got back in the car and sped away. Hours later I found a note asking if I was selling a motorbike (there was one parked near but not in front of my house), so I assumed it must have been the same person, and never saw/heard anything again. Prayer, though–that’s just weird (unless God was commanding her to ring your bell?)

  • On a related note: I went to a Neighborhood Watch/Crime Prevention training session on Monday at the Fourth District HQ, and I thought it was helpful. It’s being repeated Sat. 3/21 at 10 a.m. at the Senior Wellness Center at 3531 Georgia Ave. NW (but is open to all, not just seniors).

    • If I’m answering my door at 11pm for a stranger, I’m bringing my 12ga with me. There’s no way I’d ever answer my door unarmed late at night.

      • Again, you don’t open or unlock the door. You make it known that you’re home by speaking through the secured door.

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