Door-to-door children's book salesman raising suspicions

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KMOV.com

Posted on August 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 19 at 5:39 PM

(KMOV.com) -- A man in Crawford, Franklin and Gasconade counties, claiming to be a children's book salesman, is raising some eyebrows after he reportedly knocked on doors and asked residents if children lived in the home.

On Thursday morning, the Crawford County Sheriff's Department received numerous reports about a "highly suspicious" person in the Bourbon and Cuba, Missouri areas who was knocking on resident's doors and inquiring if they had children in the household.

According to reports, the subject had a thick foreign accent and made notes in a notebook and on map before he left.  Sheriff Martin Randy quickly mobilized law enforcement personnel to track down the suspicious person. 

Deputies and police officers blanketed the area and one officer spotted the man backing out of a driveway along Highway PP.  After stopping the subject and interviewing him, officers determined that he was a foreign exchange student from Estonia who was out selling magazine subscriptions.

Sheriff Martin said, "We always assume worst case scenarios when dealing in potential child threat incidents."  The subject was released after discovering and verifying that he was staying with a family in the Bourbon, Missouri area and was selling children's books as part of a church program.

"This turned out to be a false alarm, but it was a great sense of relief that none of our children were in danger," Martin said.

On Friday, residents in Franklin County reported a similar incident.  The Franklin County Sheriff's Department received a call from a resident who reported seeing a suspicious vehicle in the neighborhood.  The resident also explained that the person in the vehicle was going door-to-door asking about children in area households and was accompanied by a female. 

The caller described the vehicle as a gray, 4-door Chevrolet Cavalier.  The caller provided a license plate number, however, the number was reportedly not on file.

Authorities, at this time, cannot say with 100 percent certainty that the two incidents are related.  Investigators determined that the individual selling books in Crawford County worked for a corporation out of Nashville, Tennessee.  The subject in Franklin County listed that corporation as his address when he rented the Chevrolet Cavalier in St. Louis.  Authorities said it appears that the subject in Franklin County is working for a legitimate company.

Officials issued this statement Friday afternoon:

"Consumers should always be cautious when dealing with companies out of state or one that they are not familiar with.  We appreciate the call from the concerned citizens and encourage other to do the same when they observe suspicious activity."
 

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