Unicoi sheriff escorts door-to-door salesman to county line following complaints

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UNICOI COUNTY, TN (WJHL)- Twenty minutes, that’s how long Ashley Shaw said it took for her to get rid of a door-to-door salesman who was trying to sell her children’s books.

Shaw said she was at home Thursday with her family cleaning when there was a loud knock at the door.

Once she opened the door Shaw said she immediately felt uneasy.

“He had sores all over his face, his clothes were not clean…he did have a briefcase and he was trying to sell us books…he wanted to come in and read to the kids,” Shaw said.

When Shaw tried to tell the salesman she didn’t want any books, according to her, he still persisted.

“He just would not go away or stop trying to sell it so he wanted to come in and actually read to the kids, and then I had to holler for my husband to come out…he was basically demanding that he come into our home, he was demanding that we didn’t know what we were doing as parents,” Shaw said.

We found several other mothers in Unicoi County with stories similar to this.

Keshia Hughes said just days ago a salesman knocked at her door three times, and she never answered.

It was when Hughes and her family were outside of their home that the man was able to approach them.

“It was something about Pre-K, he was selling some kind of educational program about Pre-K…and he kept asking where we were going and if he could talk to us and ask about my little daughter ask how old she was and that she was a handful,” Hughes said.

It wasn’t long before authorities in Unicoi County and Erwin were getting calls about this same door-to-door salesman.

Erwin’s Police Chief Regan Tilson said his department got several calls from concerned parents. 

“We started to hear outside of normal door-to-door sale activity, things about asking questions about kids, if the kids were there, if there were single mothers in the area, different things like that that were raising some red flags for us,” Tilson said.

Tilson was able to confirm there were multiple salesman in the county, and that they did not have the proper licenses to be going door-to-door.

“They did not have a door-to-door transient vendors license for the city or the county…I was very clear, the deputies on scene were very clear that this is not okay,” Tilson said.

Tilson said he had that very conversation with one of the salesman Friday night, but just days later they would surface again just outside of Erwin town limits.

“They were able to talk to them again, and the sheriff escorted them out,” Tilson said.

Tilson said if you are concerned about who’s at your door, there are several ways to approach the situation.

“If there’s another adult there, you can step outside and talk to that person on the porch in view of other people, see if you are interested and if you are you can conduct your business right there, if they are insistent on coming in that’s probably going to be a bad idea…if you feel uncomfortable say I’m not interested thank you have a nice day and if they continue you can always call us,” Tilson said.

He added that if you do have a salesman come to your door without the proper paperwork they can be charged in municipal court with ‘operating a business without a license’ and that it is one count per door they approach.

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