Lutherville resident Diane Scharper had just finished dinner one evening last month when a sudden banging at the front door startled her.
The knocking, which she called “insistent,” was so alarming that Scharper and her husband didn’t answer the door. Instead, they went upstairs to peer at the visitor through a bedroom window.
Standing outside was a “tallish” woman in her 50s with light skin and dirty blonde hair, Scharper said.
After Scharper spoke to the uninvited guest through the second-floor window, the woman said she had written a book and wanted to know if Scharper would read it. The woman, however, did not have a book with her.
“It was a very strange encounter,” Scharper said. “She looked like she could’ve been one of my neighbors.”
As a professional book reviewer, Scharper assumed the woman had deliberately targeted her house. She politely dismissed her, saying she only reviews books provided by publishers.
But the unknown woman was not seeking Scharper’s specific book-reviewing skills. Several other residents throughout the Lutherville area last month have experienced similar encounters with the would-be author as well as with other strange solicitation scenarios.
During a Lutherville Community Association meeting last week, several residents voiced concerns about a man insistently offering landscaping services and about being approached by another man and a 10-year-old girl who appeared to be his daughter.
The Baltimore County Council passed a measure last year that made it illegal to solicit door-to-door after 5 p.m. or sunset, which further added to the community’s concerns that these were possible scams. Solicitors must also carry identification with them.
In response to community members' worries, Eric Rockel, public facilities chair for the Lutherville Community Association, offered a resolution to post “no soliciting” signs at the entryways of various neighborhoods.
All the members at the meeting raised their hands in support of the idea.
Monica Enoch, the group’s security chair, said all information has been passed along to Baltimore County police.
“It’s been made clear that if anyone feels threatened that the first thing to do is call 911,” Enoch said. “But I hope this does not become an issue.”
On March 6, Baltimore County Police Capt. Martin Lurz sent out an e-mail to community members about a man offering landscaping services.
In the letter, Lurz assured residents that tips submitted to the police department “are being pursued.”