Door-to-Door Alert: ‘Locksmith’ scammer may be active again

Just last week, we had reports of suspicious solicitors going door-to-door in the Roosevelt neighborhood.

A neighbor just alerted us to another possible scam that might be happening.

Last night (3 April) at around 10:30, a younger-looking, thin black man rang our doorbell. He said his name was Clark Lewis, that he was a janitor at UW, and that he and his boyfriend had apparently just moved into nearby condos. He told us he had locked his keys and wallet inside of his condo, and needed $3 to pay a locksmith who was on the way. It sounded kind of fishy, but we coughed up the $3 in the spirit of neighborliness. When we gave him the money, he said, “Oh, I needed THIRTEEN dollars …” but we coincidentally didn’t have any more cash. He also asked questions about our neighbors. We kept our eyes casually peeled on our alley/street before going to bed, and no locksmith ever arrived.

Our next-door neighbors were also visited by this same fellow with the same story last night, and our downstairs neighbor said the same guy hit him up a few months ago with a similar tale. Both neighbors agreed that he seemed suspicious.

This neighbor also mentioned finding an article on My Green Lake from last December about a similar incident in which an individual claimed to be locked out of his house and needed money to pay the locksmith. It could be that the same person is active again, or it could be an entirely new scam.

At last fall’s neighborhood crime prevention meeting, Diane Horswill from the SPD Crime Prevention Unit shared a safety tip for preventing burglaries, but can also help with these sorts of solicitors, no matter what time of day they come by.

  • DO let strangers know you’re home: Most burglaries happen during the day when nobody is home because they don’t want to run into anyone. If you’re at home during the day and a stranger comes to your door, don’t open the door. Ask “YES?” very loudly through the door when they knock, and then give them “No thank you!” if it’s someone you don’t know. This can go a long way in protecting your home from burglaries.

Help keep your neighbors informed and let us know when you spot suspicious activity in the hood. Send tips to:

  • Sportsbyjake

    Wow! Saturday night around 3 am we had just gotten back from the bars. I was sitting on my friends couch when all of the sudden a man (think, black) shouts up from the street saying he needs my help. I opened the window, he gave his story ( just moved in, locksmith cost 25$ and he had 22$) I called BS on it, told him I knew he was lying, and he acted all pissed off and stormed off down the street.

  • Oy Vey.

    I wanted to report that my husband experienced this last Oct. The guy who came to our door fits the description provided above. It was about 1:00 a.m. (I’m sure he could see that my husband was still up with lights on) and said he needed 10 bucks to pay the locksmith. He claimed he would pay my husband back. In the spirit of neighborliness (is that a word?) and instead of “engaging” with the guy at that hour, my husband gave him the cash. Surprise – surprise – we were not paid back.

  • Judkins

    Clark’s doppelgänger, Patrick (who is quick to point out, “I’m gay”) pulls the same scam in the CD. It’s evergreen. We fell for it once, in 1997.
    There are long comment threads about him on the CD News. These neighborhood blogs are not good for business!

  • MontlakeResident

    This happened to me about 3 months ago in the Montlake neighborhood. Patrick, a thin black man who also pointed out he was gay, needed $3 dollars to pay the locksmith because he had come home from his break as a janitor at UW and had locked his keys in the car. He said if he didn’t get back to work he would lose his job. I started to give him $3 dollars and then he said he need $13! He had mentioned knowing my upstairs neighbor (he knew her name) so it made me more comfortable. He kept promising that as soon as he could get to his wallet he would come right back with the money! I wish I had read this article a couple months ago!

  • Oy Vey.

    Oh my gosh! I posted earlier today saying this happened to my husband. Here I am sitting on my couch and a guy came and knocked on my door! He fit the description that others have posted and that my husband described (my husband’s not here right now). I cut him off telling him I knew what he was here for (which was kind of rude) and he stumbled over his words and he then asked where “Mercer and Fairview” was… he asked again what I thought he was there for and I said – there are stories from around the neighborhood of someone coming to the door and asking for money… I’m pretty sure it was him as why would someone come through a 6 foot gated fence and to a front door to ask where Mercer and Fairview is? Maybe I scared him off for the rest of the neighborhood…

  • Jenny B

    This sounds like the same guy who hit our house (Latona & 65th) last year. Definitely a scam.

  • Ctantoco

    A man fitting this description tried to pull this scam on us several months ago.

  • Ahnika Johnson

    tonight this EXACT same thing happened to me and my husband. same guy, same story. 5th & maple leaf.

  • locksmith ottawa

    Some people in this world simply have no morals… what an *sshole. Sounds like he may have made some good money that night.

  • Gus

    I’ve met ‘Patrick the UW janitor’ on 3 occasions now, first at UW, outside Gould Hall, got the same locksmith/towtruck story, he needed $3 then $13, and for some reason I believed him and I gave him what I had, $9. He never showed up the next day to pay me back…duh. Then, about two years later, he showed up at my house in Roosevelt, creepy. He started his story about being gay, moving in down the street with his partner, and I cut him off, told him I knew him and he still owed me $9. He acted flustered, confused, and hurt that I would accuse him. Same thing happened again a few weeks later. Apparently he doesn’t have a photographic memory.

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  • Gus

     I just had my fourth encounter with Patrick, again coming to my door at 9:30pm, and started telling me he was the new neighbor down the street, blah blah blah.  I told him the neighborhood was aware of who he is and what he’s doing, and he needs to stop lying and soliciting people in their homes.  It’s amazing he’s still peddling this same story around the neighborhood.  

  • Meganlupin

    This JUST happened to me not 15 minutes ago.  I live in Madison Valley and this man came by with the same story (except he said he worked at the Bailey Boushay House).  I only had $1 on me, which I gave to him.  When he saw that was all he was going to get, his face fell and he started to walk away.  I never answer the door if I’m not expecting someone, but did this time because my front window was open and the tv (which is right next to the window was on), so it was obvious someone was home.  I’m a bit nervous now, as I saw two police cars in front of my neighbors’ house with the officers discussing an open window in the house.  That and our local paper has mentioned recent burglaries.