Ames Police urge vigilance after arrests of transient merchants

Sarah Haas

Ames police are encouraging Ames residents to be wary of door-to-door salespersons who have not registered with the city.

Under an ordinance, all door-to-door salespersons are required to register with the City Clerk’s office in order to legally sell goods. Ames residents and local businesses are exempt.

“It helps protect the citizens so that they aren’t being taken by some fly-by-night outfit that is selling magazines,” said Ames Police Cmdr. Mike Brennan. “At least it’s a way to check identification on people and do a bit of background on them.”

Ames police arrested five transient merchants last week. The five failed to register with the city and obtain a peddler’s permit.

“Make sure if you have somebody selling something door-to-door, ask to see their city of Ames peddler’s permit,” Brennan said.

The majority of peddlers sell magazine subscriptions, although Brennan said there have been a variety of products sold including meat. The sellers are typically young adults who have been bused in by a company.

There are several ways Ames residents can protect themselves from being taken advantage of by door-to-door sellers.

Brennan said people should never buy a product from a pushy salesperson regardless of whether the salesperson has a peddler’s permit. Residents should not pay for a product before it is delivered in order to ensure satisfaction with the product. In addition, he said not to provide personal information.

If you’re uneasy about a solicitor, Brennan said to call the police.

“Some of them are legitimate, but there are some that aren’t,” he said.

The charge of transient merchant without a license is a simple misdemeanor.