After complaints from residents of her ward, an Evanston alderman has asked city staff to draft an ordinance that would restrict door-to-door soliciting in town.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, made the request at this week’s City Council meeting, after several residents on her message board complained about people coming to their doors with implausible hard-luck stories asking for work or cash.

Evanston has long had laws on the books imposing restrictions on panhandling — the sort of begging that generally takes place on the streets of business districts. It also regulates peddlers — people who sell merchandise or services from carts or other vehicles. And it even limits tag days by charitable groups.

But it apparently does not have any restrictions on people who come to your door with a hard-luck story or a pitch for magazine subscriptions or contributions to a real or imaginary charity.

Some residents of Rainey’s south Evanston ward have suggested that the city should adopt restrictions like those in place in Highland Park — where solicitors have to get a license from the police chief. The license permits them to go door-to-door for no more than seven days and requires them to respect “no soliciting” signs posted by residents on their doors.

Violators are subject to a fine of $50 to $500 or up to six months in jail.

Should Evanston regulate door-to-door solicitors?

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. No soliciting

    Thank you, Alderwoman Rainey for thinking of such an ordinance. These solicitors aren't just a nuisance, but can actually be a little scary, especially those that ring doorbells at 8:00 PM or even later. I live in NW Evanston and had a lot of trouble with these solicitations last fall and summer. No one should be ringing anyone's doorbell after children are in bed.

  2. Another Issue

    I have noticed people asking for cash to help defray the cost of funerals. Their story resolves around a student who has died at Evanston or other nearby high schools. I have seen them numerous times in local grocery stores.

    The last two times have been at Dominick's on Dempster. They asked me for cash two days in a row for Evanston High basketball players that had been shot. Each day was a different name. When I asked them if there was enough players left to field a team. I told them about asking me for money twice, in as many days, they ran out of the store and disappeared into the night.

    Be careful, this and many other scams are happening all around us.

  3. Thank you Alderman Rainey

    Please put in an ordinance that outright makes it illegal to solicit door to door. I'm sure some of these people are legit, but the past four times my door bell has rung, and if I didn't answer it quickly enough, the "solicitor" was trying to open my front door.

    When asked about why they were trying to get in my house, their answer is always "Oh, I was just trying to leave you a brochure." I say "then give me the brochure" they say "oh, I just realized that I've run out of them."

    Most of these "solicitors" are fronts for bad guys who are scoping houses to rob. I live near Evanston Hospital, just a short walk from the L train!

    1. Four occasions?

      Can you help us get our heads around this?  On four separate occasions, someone has tried to enter your house, thinking you weren't home.  And on four occasions you opened the door to said persons.  This has happened…four times?  On how many of these occasions did you call the police?

      This ordinance ain't going to help you if you keep opening the door.

      1. Don’t open

        I can't stress how important I feel it is that you should never open your door to anyone you do not know.

        You can easily just let them know that you are home and you are not interested in whatever they may be 'selling' from behind a locked door.

        If you feel uneasy and worried, go ahead and call the police on the non-emergency line, as in this instance when they're actually trying to enter your home.

        You might actually help the police stop a potential crime to a neighbor before it happens.

  4. It’s about time,

    Since moving to Evanston's historic lakefront district seven years ago, I have been appalled by the frequency of scammers ringing neighborhood doorbells.

    The vast majority of those ringing our doorbell look like common criminals simply "casing" neighborhoods to determine if the occupants are away from the house and to determine if a dog is in the house.

    Evanston's tolerance (boarding on encouragement) of scammers, storefront beggars, and homeless makes the community less desirable to many merchants and would-be residents.

    I have lost count over the past seven years of: 1) Evanston residents who say "enough is enough" and move north of Evanston, and 2)  Chicago friends who decide to relocate to the north suburbs but laugh off the idea of moving to liberal Evanston!

    This community has a ton of potential, thanks largely to its proximity to Chicago and our lakefront. However those benefits are dwarfed by the tolerant liberal mindset!

  5. Scam at Dominick’s

    I can verify the story about soliciting money at Dominick's on Dodge for ETHS basketball players who had been shot. Happened to me last spring. I said I hadn't heard about that and no the young man. I also made a mental note to check the recent news. No shooting. It was a scam. If you are not familiar with an organization or cause, ask for written material or at least details. If they are legit and you still want to give they will gladly take a check sent in the mail.

  6. Do we really need an ordinance?

    Don't answer the door! It's your right! The same as it's their right to ring the bell. Really people…


    1. Yes because I don’t want bell ringers but you can welcome them

      I don't want people ringing my doorbell at all hours of the day and night. It's my home and I should have that right.

      The proposed ordinance gives me the right to post a sign that says I don't want the bell ringers. You don't have to post the sign if you don't want to.  Please welcome them to your door if you like wish. 

      My children have been scared by some of the people who have appeared at our door. When we talk to some bell ringers through a locked door, they curse at us and call us vile names (all in hearing of our children). We are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of our property without hustlers and con artists bothering us in our homes.

      If you have not had a problem with door bell ringers in Evanston, consider yourself lucky. I am one of many who has. I am glad to see Highland Park's ordinance being seriously considered here. 

    2. It’s not their “right” to come on to my property

      Please, nobody has the "right" to ring my bell.  They have no business being on private property uninvited.  

      I always call the police when any solicitor comes to the door as by definition this activity is suspicious.  If the ordinance cuts down on scammers it will save police resources to deal with other activity.  

      There is no harm in passing such an ordinance since the only possible people who could be "hurt" by it are criminals and scam artists.

      1. Even for Girls Scouts?

        Wow, do you do that even when the Girl Scouts come by selling cookies? I'm impressed. I got hit up twice this year by girls and their moms and it didn't even occur to me to call the police.

        1. Sure

          We haven't had a Girl Scout come by selling cookies in over a decade. We've had plenty in the neighborhood, they've sold us cookies, and yet they've managed to do it without cold-calling. If you don't have the problems with scam artists/solicitors that many of us have, consider yourself lucky rather than the norm.

        2. Never had a Girl Scout come to my door

          I've never once had a Girl Scout come to my home selling cookies and I've lived in Evanston for more than 17 years. Neighbors selling anything (school fundraiser, for example) call or ask me when they see me.  In recent years, I have observed that Girl Scouts have moved to central locations like community centers for their sales.

          Scam artists and con men are at my door almost every week.

          Again, if you want bell ringers, you don't need to change a thing under the new ordinance. But I will be posting a sign so that my family is not bothered in our home.   I appreciate the option and thank Alderman Rainey for allowing residents to choose. 

        3. Yup, even the Girl Scouts

          They do online sales and at grocery stores. since your online you can find theem

  7. Exempt and welcome

    Does the policy apply to anyone soliciting a vote for a Democrat candidate, local, state or federal, or a representative of a left leaning policy advocacy group soliciting for signatures or a donation?

    Probably not….

    How come this was not brought prior to the general election?  Obama drones?

    1. Just an opportunity for insult? Sad

      This is a serious matter for some of us. No, I am not an "Obama drone" as I am not actively political nor am I a male bee that performs no work. I raised the issue when I was finally fed up with the constant bell ringer scammers and con artists. If you were bothered by political bell ringers (I didn't get any), you could have brought it up before the election. But cheer up. If the change is made, it will be in place for the next election. In my opinion, it should apply to all — vote solicitors for Democrats and Republicans, too. I don't care what they are selling, even if it's politics. I am not buying at my door and I don't want to be bothered with telling them "no, thank you" while the dinner burns, the children are unattended, the important phone call was interrupted, the wet clothes sit in the washing machine, the basket of laundry goes unfolded, etc.

  8. Never let a stranger into

    Never let a stranger into your home. This seems like basic advice, but I see people victimized like this quite often.Unfortunately, I read recently that older folks are somewhat more susceptible to this sort of scam.

  9. Definitely we need to

    Definitely we need to regulate this kind of act. Door-to-door solicitation is considered as scam. I just don’t know how this solicitors or scammers get into villages or given permission to go house to house. They are actually annoying and create nuisance. Authorities should take action for this. True, this is scary. We didn’t know if they where killers, kidnappers or whatsoever. Folks, keep yourselves alarm from this. Read more some scam reports here: Beware of door to door scams

    Be safe everyone!



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