A city ordinance requiring a license for door-to-door sales does not usually result in arrests, but it did Wednesday for six out-of-town salespeople.
Lawrence police arrested the solicitors, who all sell books, magazines, and coffee door-to-door for the same Champaign, Ill., company, in two separate incidents Wednesday evening in the 1700 block of Lake Alvamar Drive about 6:30 p.m. and outside Hy-Vee, 4000 W. 6th Street about 11:30 p.m.
The six were arrested after residents and Hy-Vee employees complained about their activities. The solicitors told police and their employers that they were unaware there was a city ordinance governing their sales.
In fact, selling door-to-door without a license in Lawrence is a municipal offense punishable by a fine of $250 to $1,000. Local offenders are normally given a summons to appear in court later, said Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman, but those from out of town may be arrested to ensure that they don't simply leave town and ignore the citation.
When a salesperson knocks on your door, you should be able to see clearly if they are licensed, said Jonathan Douglass, the city clerk.
Solicitors are required to show proof of their license while doing business, Douglass said. A licensed solicitor should have an ID card with their picture, license number, and company name provided by the city.
To apply for a license, a solicitor must pay $250, pass a police department background check, and show a valid Kansas sales tax ID number, vehicle information, and a government-issued photo ID. The licenses are good through the end of the year, and applicants can be disqualified if their license has been revoked in the past two years or if they have an outstanding warrant for their arrest.
In residential areas, solicitors can only operate between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. and cannot sell to any residence or business that displays a “no solicitors” or “no trespassers” sign.
Employees at the Hy-Vee said they asked four of the solicitors to leave the store's property Wednesday and called police when the salespeople were not cooperative. Two other salespeople were arrested on Alvamar Drive after residents complained to police.
All six were booked into jail on suspicion of soliciting without a license and criminal trespass. Staff at the Illinois sales company Certified Management Inc., said the employees worked in many communities around the country and violated Lawrence's ordinance by mistake because they were unaware of it.
The arrested sales people were all booked into Douglas County Jail and released on bond. They included:
• Sukari Shawnay Obiogun, 28, of Oakland, Calif. Obiogun was also booked on suspicion of obstruction.
• Tashzeri Lacole Cleveland, 21, of Mablevale, Ark.
• Mario Terrelle Massenburg, 22, of Chicago. Massenburg was also booked on suspicion of possession of marijuana.
• Tashara Ciera Dowds, 27, of Greensboro, N.C.
• Antonio Cartiez Jones, 36, of San Rafael, Calif.
• Price Williams, 47, of Detroit