Some peddlers can be pretty aggressive in seeking to make a sales pitch.
"We've actually had instances where they've stuck their foot in the door," said Ralph Jones, a veteran of Columbus' license section. "We've had people walk around the back of the house. We've had people pull on sliding glass doors."
Jones, who has been with the city for almost 30 years, the past two decades with the license section, was one of the guest speakers at the March 20 meeting of block-watch coordinators in the Northland neighborhood of Columbus.
Jodie H. Bokemper, a burglary detective with the Columbus Division of Police for an area that stretches from the Mall at Tuttle Crossing to Polaris to the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, also was on hand.
Whether door-to-door sales people are rude like the ones he described or polite as can be, all must get a permit from the city's license section to ply their trade, Jones said.
"If they offer you something for sale -- merchandise, flowers, vacuum cleaners, meat -- they have to have this license," he said, holding up an example of one of two types available to peddlers.
The color-coded licenses that cover a full year cost $155; those that cover four months cost $85, Jones said.
"Everyone who walks into our office has to get a background check," he said.
That requirement for criminal background checks kicked in Feb. 1, according to the city's website.
Jones said misdemeanor charges that potentially could result in jail time can be filed against people who try to make door-to-door sales without obtaining a license to do so.
Peddlers are allowed to operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jones said. Salespeople may not enter a home without permission, he said.
"If they do, that's a 911 call," Jones said.
Apartment complexes are considered to be private property and peddlers may be prohibited, but that's not the case at all with public sidewalks, he said.
Homeowners also may put up signs advising solicitors to stay away.
"They're supposed to abide by that," Jones said. "Again, if they don't, that's a violation."
Exemptions from licensing requirements are granted by city code to government departments, agencies and subdivisions, including public schools; state-accredited private schools and academies; civic, patriotic, religious and political groups; recreational, fraternal or cultural organizations; a representative of an organization that holds a valid charitable-solicitation license; anyone selling items they grow, raise or manufacture on private property but not going door to door; and mobile food vendors with current and valid licenses.
Jones recounted one instance where a homeowner let a peddler inside to hear the sales pitch. At some point, the salesman got information from an envelope on a kitchen counter and the next thing the resident knew, $550 in magazine subscriptions began arriving in the mail.
"There are people who do this the right way and there are people who don't do it the right way," Jones said.
Other people, he said, are scoping out a neighborhood to get a sense of who leaves what residence and when. He recounted a recent instance in Clintonville in which a team of alleged peddlers cased five or six houses and broke into two of them.
That's where Bokemper's presentation came in.
Annually, she said, the police division receives 30,000 reports of burglaries, but only one in seven is actively investigated "just because of lack of evidence."
When reports are filed in cases where a structure was occupied, the theft or vandalism totals $1,000, elderly or people with disabilities are the victims or credit cards and checks are stolen, they are broken down into three categories, Bokemper said.
The first one involves those with no chance of being solved unless some physical evidence, such as an eyewitness, fingerprints or DNA comes to light. Second are incidents in which a suspect has been identified in some way. Third is when there is a known suspect, often as the result of officers making an on-the-scene arrest, Bokemper said.