Tuesday, March 04, 2014

From PMFA's Mailbox: Legitimate Fundraising Or Casing Carroll Gardens Buildings?

Last week, a PMFA reader reached out to remind everyone that even in a safe neighborhood like Carroll Gardens, burglaries do happen and that it is a good idea to keep once guard up.  The reader's own home had been broken into in the middle of the day, the burglar(s) having gained access through the back window.
Today, another reader had a strange encounter in his own building at Union and Clinton Streets.  He writes:
[I] had a strange incident in our building here on Union and Clinton earlier today.  Found two college-aged girls on the fourth floor of our walk-up, ostensibly soliciting money going from door to door (there are only four units in our brownstone), so, when I came home, I heard them upstairs.  They were looking at personal belongings that were stored upstairs by our neighbor. 
I asked them who they were and what they were doing and how they got in and they said they were raising money, and had been talking to all of neighbors, where one of them had buzzed them in. I was the only one who was home, so I knew that couldn't have been the case... anyway,  I rushed them out of the door, not thinking that I should have insisted on getting their names and the organization they were raising funds for. 
I confirmed that no one else was home, and then I started to remember that there had been a lot of daytime break-ins in our neighborhood of late... so, my question to you - have you heard anyone mention whether some of the break-ins have involved younger people posing as volunteers soliciting money? 
The thought occurred to me that, unlikely as it may seem, perhaps they were casing our building. I don't know. Just thought I'd ask.
The reader followed up his first email with further details. He writes:
*The incident happened at 3 pm on a weekday (today). 
*The two girls were women, i shouldn't have called them girls, but they appeared to be college-aged or a little bit older. they were clean-cut, wearing baseball hats, one had a clipboard - so they looked the part as volunteers. there was nothing else about their appearance that suggested that they were suspicious. ordinary winter coats, they didn't look like drug addicts or homeless or any other kind of vagrants. 
*What tipped me off was that they said they were talking to all of the neighbors, and that one of them had buzzed them in, when i knew that none of my neighbors were home... and then, when i started to ask questions, the two women quickly made their way down the stairs, with me following, asking more questions which they did not answer. 
Again, it's most likely that they were simply two college-aged women who were, in fact, volunteers, and that nothing unusual was happening other than they let themselves in and figured that it was ok to knock on each door - if so, then they were likely a bit confused and maybe concerned that i was obviously displeased with their being in the building and they just wanted to get out... fair enough. 
I'd be curious to know if anyone else has encountered something like this and if it raised any red flags. most people in our neighborhood know not to let yourself into a building unannounced. that's generally not how people engage with each other. even the older catholic women who occasionally solicit door to door know not to let themselves in the buildings.
I am curious curious myself if these two ladies have been ringing doors in the neighborhood and for what cause they are fundraising.  Of course, as the reader says, this most probably is a legitimate fundraising attempt, but then again, we may as well be careful, especially when someone gains access to our buildings without permission.



15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's very hard to believe this email to you as truth. Usually, when someone solicits fundraisers or tries to get people to sign up for any information, they first start off by stating what cause it is for. Having known volunteers and been one myself, it's the first step of the job, Since they supposedly, "never gave the cause" in the first place and their clipboard didn't have the name of the cause either, this story sounds a bit out there. Possibly fiction.

Katia said...

Anon, I happen to know the person who sent the email and I can vouch for him. I cannot vouch for the two young ladies who found themselves in a building under perhaps false pretense.

Anonymous said...

Katia, how did these young women get into the building if no one buzzed them in? Was the door left unlocked?

Anonymous said...

Something similar happened to me this week as well. Although it was a man and he was not volunteering, he approached my door asking if I received my check from Coned, when I said no, he asked to look at my bills. Of course I didn't let him, he never introduced himself nor was he wearing a uniform. Scary.

Anonymous said...

I have seen young men in my building. Trying to get people to switch power companies. But not for years. I asked them to leave. And some other girl knocking on doors. Why would someone fabricate a story about those two women? This blog seems like an odd place to post a fake story against "volunteers".

Anonymous said...

My apartment in Cobble Hill was broken into in mid-December and there was security footage of the entry. It was a single black male, and he broke in through the rooftop fire escape, used the "credit card trick" to get through my apartment door (we think as we didn't have cameras directly on the door), and exited through the front door. Sounds pretty similar in circumstance to the fire-escape break ins that have been reported in Carroll Gardens, so my guess is that this instance is something else entirely (although it does seem pretty suspicious!).

Anonymous said...

I've seen a young-ish man with a clipboard ring all the doorbells in my building (about one month ago), but I waited around the corner until he left. I've seen a young woman, as well, going up to multiple homes.

I didn't attempt to approach the man, because I felt uneasy with him in the vestibule at night when no one else was in my building.

Anonymous said...

Lately, this situation has been occurring around Henry Street as well. Most recently with two men trying to get into the backyard to check the cable wires. One male being Black the other being White. They came to my building once and asked if they could get into the backyard. Having known that all TWC (Time Warner Cable) installers wear a badge as well as the normal TWC clothes, I didn't allow them in.

Also, in regards to the people trying to get you to switch over to another power company. This is completely legal and Con Edison already told me, they can't do anything about it. It's this companies way of "marketing" and they are doing nothing illegal by asking to see your bill.

This has been a trend as of late for the Upstate NY Power Companies who use wind power to come to brooklyn and get new customers. I know this only because the Farmacy on Henry and Sackett accepted their offer.

I'm a little skeptic with the women who came into the building though. If they were from a cause such as the ones you see petitioning outside Trader Joe's or Starbucks on Court Street. They would have given the cause they were supporting. Luckily you chased them out. I would have called the police immediately. Who knows if they just walked in from someone walking out.

Moltalb said...

Update: My upstairs neighbor just sent an email saying "At about 3:45, an overly friendly person rang everyone's buzzer today. She introduced herself only as Anna (in an overly familiar way), and when I asked who she was here to see, she said "she just wanted to chat with people in the building". I did not let her in. I also went downstairs to make sure she wasn't accidentally let in by anyone else."

We also live on the corner of Clinton and Union Sts.

Katia said...

That sounds as though it could be related to the incident I posted about.

Anonymous said...

This same "Anna" person rang my buzzer on Clinton and President saying the exact same thing. I didn't buzz her in either. It was really creepy.

Anonymous said...

I found Anna roaming around our building on a President and Clinton. I can't remember if it was early this week or late last week. Overly friendly is the perfect way to describe her ! When she rang the bell on my apartment door I asked her how she got in and she told me someone had buzzed her in. I told her she had to go and she quickly left.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone informed the police about "Anna"?

Anonymous said...

Same here, I'm on Clinton near Carroll. Young woman rang bell and said she wanted to talk about the community, yeah right...i'll let her talk to my Doberman if she comes back. Be careful people.

chance bliss said...

taking into account all of the details, the question becomes:

if they were volunteers, then why were they behaving this way? it seems like a really ineffective way to fundraise. it's possible they were simply incompetent and inexperienced.

but, if they were NOT volunteers, then why would they pose as volunteers and what were they doing in the buildings?