Although some people might get frustrated with the strangers who go door-to-door, it’s not illegal to solicit.
The solicitor must apply for and receive a permit to legally solicit and carry the permit on them. A resident has every right to ask to see their permit, and East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks said as a precaution, residents are encouraged to call the police to report a solicitor without a permit.
There’s not any specific type of soliciting that’s illegal in East Lansing, but Wicks said the most common form is lawn care solicitation.
“If someone says ‘I don’t have one,’ or ‘I don’t need one,’ you should call the police,” Wicks said. “They won’t get in trouble, the police will just go to check it out.”
East Lansing police Capt. Jeff Murphy said illegal solicitors often receive a warning.
He said police receive calls on solicitors fairly regularly, mostly because soliciting usually is more of a nuisance rather than dangerous.
“Officers are always able to give a warning if they feel it’s appropriate,” Murphy said. “It gives them a chance to get a permit and solicit legally or leave East Lansing, so the problem is solved.”
He said reporting a solicitor without a permit or based on suspicion helps ensure safety.
Wicks stressed the importance of reporting any suspicious activity after she had a strange occurrence of her own. After Wicks and her husband called the police on a man who was circling the outside of her home, the police picked the man up and discovered that he had breaking and entering tools with him.
“(The permit) is to make sure that the people coming into your homes are safe,” Wicks said.