With the first knock Frances Bugajsky, 84, was startled. She slowly started walking towards the door”she was recovering from a problem with her leg. Then the pounding began.
“He had something to do with the gas company,” Bugajsky said. “He said I was eligible for a lower gas bill. I showed him my gas bill. He saw it, then he wanted to use my phone.”
At this point Bugajsky became concerned and denied the man entry, calling the police.
The next day the man came back, rang the bell, then started pounding.
“That scared me,” she recalled. “I wouldn’t let him in, I didn’t go even to the door. My bedroom is such that I can peep through. I didn’t know what he wanted or why he was coming back. Two of my neighbors said the same thing.”
Bugajsky is one of the many senior citizens in Forest Park who feel that twinge of uncertainty when strange people come to their door. She is one of the residents that Mayor Anthony Calderone wants to protect by changing the local solicitation ordinance.
“We are looking to require anyone who is going to be canvassing in Forest Park or doing solicitation to be criminally checked, to be certain that they have not been convicted of any felony,” Calderone said. “Along with that [we want to ask] that they have a photo ID so that the homeowners would have some assurance that the person has been checked out by the village.”
Calderone said these measures, which the solicitors would pay for, would go a long way towards assuring seniors they are safe.
“In the past I have had similar conversations,” he said. “Many seniors are afraid to come forward, for whatever reason, and to voice their concern about fears they have. Fortunately Frances was willing to stand up and say we have a potential problem.”
“You can’t be rude to people or scare them,” Bugajsky said. “He frightened me. There need to be stricter rules of how they are gong to be doing that. With all these rumors you hear, the elderly can’t trust to open the door.”
Currently the ordinance requires any persons seeking to be a peddler, solicitor, itinerant vendor, canvasser or noncommercial solicitor to obtain a license from the village clerk. Solicitors must inform the clerk if they have been convicted of a felony or have had a license revoked by a municipality, but this does not include a process for checking the applicant’s background.