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No door-to-door child abduction ring but . . .

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POSTED September 4, 2013 12:17 a.m.

People see them on social media sites all the time.

Beware of strange people in your neighborhood that might be up to no good. There’s a group that’s running a certain racket that will inadvertently lead to some sort of harm to you or your family.

The specifics change, but in Jessica Becker’s case the talk at the preschool she takes her daughter to focused on group of door-to-door booksellers that had allegedly been targeting Manteca homes as part of an elaborate child abduction ring.

Then she saw it on Facebook. And she grew concerned.

But according to Manteca Police Department Lt. Tony Souza, no such group has been reported and false information has been known to circulate at times.

A good rule of thumb, he said, is not to invite anybody inside of your home if you don’t feel comfortable with their approach or the tactics that they’re employing.

“The City of Manteca does have policies and municipal codes in place that govern sales in the City of Manteca – requiring business permits and things like that and those could come into play in certain situations,” he said. “We do get calls once in a while about aggressive door-to-door salespeople and we’ll send officers out to communicate and see if they’re in violation of any laws.

“We encourage people, if they feel that something is off, not to open their door, and if they feel threatened at all by their presence to call us – we’d be glad to come check their credentials and see if they’re legitimate or not.”

According to Internet myth-dispelling site Snopes.com, the door-to-door child abduction ring notification that circulates on the web is a fallacy – police departments in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arizona have all released statements saying that the posting was a hoax and that there has been absolutely no evidence to support it.

Becker said she grew anxious when a door-to-door salesperson actually did visit her mother’s house, where some of her daughter’s toys are visible, and thought immediately of some of the things that she had heard and read online.

Souza, however, said that the majority of issues that arise from door-to-door salespeople – those that are reported – come from aggressive tactics.

“More often than not they’re from out of town and are brought in to sell cleaners and books and magazines and home appliances, and there are people in town that purchase them and are quite happy,” he said. “But some people are annoyed and they get nervous and uneasy and if they have that feeling about somebody they should contact us.”

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