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Town Of Hempstead Bans Unlicensed Door-To-Door Solicitors Following Influx Of Resident Complaints

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The largest township in America is cracking down on door-to-door peddlers, and the new "do not knock" policy comes with steep fines.

The Vardakis family of East Meadow is among a growing number of families complaining to their town about unwanted solicitors.

"Sometimes it's 8:30, the dog starts barking, the baby wakes up ... and you don't really know who is legitimate and who isn't," said Allison Vardakis.

During the pandemic, the Town of Hempstead noted a marked rise in peddlers offering to do odd jobs - check a chimney, install solar panels or clean gutters.

"Trying to have a home life, it's security, safety," Andrew Vardakis said.

The town resurrected a "Do Not Knock" ordinance. The clerk's office is distributing free stickers.

"Peddlers and solicitors who are found breaking these town codes, they can have a fine up to $500," said Hempstead Town Clerk Kate Murray.

Nassau Police say officers will respond to enforce Hempstead's local ordinance just as they would any state or federal law.

Not-for-profit organizations are exempt and will work with police precincts. Licensed solicitors need to register with the town.

"They do not get that town-issued photo ID unless and until they have a criminal background check," said Murray.

Some of the springtime peddlers are scam artists, police said.

"There are other people out there that are really looking to take advantage of people, let it be a senior citizen, let it be someone home alone," said Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin.

The Vardakis children heard unwanted knocks on their door this week.

"Mommy's trying to put us to bed and then the doorbell rings and then the baby wakes up," said 8-year-old Holly Vardakis.

"I don't know how to unlock the door and that's not supposed to be the right thing," 5-year-old Sophia Vardakis said.

Town leaders say unlicensed door-to-door solicitation is no longer allowed.

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