Police Say Rumors About Door-To-Door Book Sales People Not True 8/20/13
August 20, 2013
Odessa - Door-to-door salesmen have hundreds of our viewers talking and concerned for their children’s safety. The company based out of Tennessee has many European college students here in Texas selling children’s books for a leadership program. A spokesperson for this group says rumors started in Oklahoma that these salesmen were a cover-up for a child trafficking ring, which has now spread here to Texas.
Websites like “Before It’s News” helped create fear in parents by saying door-to-door booksellers were targeting young girls for sex trafficking. The story generated hundreds of comments on our Facebook page saying much of the concern is simply by how pushy they were. One viewer says, “They need a better way of approaching families and not be so detailed on the ages of the children and asking where other children are.”
“Every time we have dealt with them they have been very cooperative, and been able to provide permits and the proper documentation,” said Communications Officer, Corporal Steve LeSueur.
Looking at one of the bookseller’s Facebook pages, she addresses the issue saying she is not a Russian troop, just an ambitious college student from a small country called Estonia.
“Dispatch advised that they received probably a dozen calls this morning in reference to suspicious people going around door to door selling these children’s books,” said LeSueur.
Yet call after call, LeSueur say there is nothing to be concerned about. “Don’t jump to conclusions and treat them with respect. As far as we know it is legit and is not a scam.”
Even though this group is legitimate, it is always a good idea to be cautious when dealing with strangers. If a salesman approaches your door officers say you always have the right to ask to see a permit.
ODESSA – Police tell CBS 7 News that many of the stories and Facebook posts surrounding door-to-door book sales people in Odessa are not true.
Corporal Steve LeSueur, told CBS 7 that OPD dispatch has had several calls about “suspicious activity,” which has turned out to be European College Students selling children’s books. Police have responded to one of these calls and, “met with three European college students who did provide all the necessary documentation and permits needed for selling.”
LeSueur says reports of other criminal activity are false and the sales people will leave the area in the first or second week of September.
Police encourage people to ask for proof of documentation as well as their permits and, “to treat them with respect and not to jump to any conclusions right away.”
Below is a copy of the email CBS 7 got from Corporal Steve LeSueur as well as a copy of an email sent to the police about the sales people being in the Odessa area as well as links to stories done in Lubbock about the rumors being untrue.
OPD Email to CBS 7.
After I spoke with you this morning I actually received an email from Dispatch advising that they are receiving several calls each day in reference to suspicious activity, which turns out to be European College Students selling children's books in Odessa. We have been receiving false calls (possible kidnappings and trafficking rings). A patrol sergeant responded to one of these calls and met with three European college students who did provide all of the necessary documentation and permits needed for selling.
However, that is not to say that there could be a scam and that there could possibly be groups going around pretending to be them. So the only thing we ask the citizens to do is to ask for proof of documentation as well as their permit. Below is an email that I actually received from Southwestern Advantage on July 22nd. It was an issue in Lubbock and is turning into a minor issue here in Odessa. I have been told that this group will be leaving Odessa in the first or second week of September. Please remind citizens to treat them with respect and not to jump to any conclusions right away.
Corporal Steve LeSueur
Office of the Chief of Police
Southwestern Advantage’s email to OPD
Hello Odessa PD,
I work in the Communications Dept at Southwestern Advantage in Nashville, TN. There are European college students in your communities this summer selling educational children's books as part of our summer sales & leadership program.
Unfortunately, there have been some malicious Facebook rumors being spread about them that they are selling books as a cover-up for a child trafficking ring. These irresponsible rumors have all been proven false, however some students have received physical threats from residents who have read and believed the rumors. We only want for your team to be aware of the situation for now.
Our primary concern is the hysteria that has been recently demonstrated by Oklahoma citizens who first began spreading these rumors, and we want nothing more than for these students to remain safe while serving families in Texas. As of now, no serious incidents have yet occurred in Texas. We ask that you pass this information along to your officers and dispatch, keep an eye out for their safety, and share clarification to anyone you can who may be concerned. Also, we are happy to be reached by anyone at 888-602-7867.
Here is clarification being shared by officers & media in Texas:
Lubbock PD's statement:
Thank you, and we appreciate your service.