Who’s that knocking on your door?


KINDNESS AND trust — these are qualities we all like to have. But wherever you find this goodness, you also find folks eager to take advantage of it. I’m talking about certain scam artists posing as door-to-door magazine sellers in the hills.

Last week, Oakland police arrested two of these solicitors on outstanding warrants. In each case, the suspects were going door to door, claiming they were representing a magazine sales company. Whether they were or not is still being investigated.

But Officer Mike Sivila says the suspects badgered an elderly man on Grandview Drive. “The homeowner had a very secluded home, and two guys walked down his long driveway and knocked on his door. When the homeowner answered, he did it with one hand behind his back. One of the two guys asked, “Do you have a gun?” The elderly man said “yes,” and the two guys responded, “So do we.” The man was able to shut his door and call police.

Selling magazines door to door isn’t illegal — if you have the right permits. But police say that, in most cases, solicitors you see in the hills don’t have permits. They get dropped off each day by rental van drivers, who come back hours later to pick them up.

Some of these supposed solicitors “are definitely up to no good,” Officer Sivila says. “We’ve found a number of burglaries in the wake of their visits.”

So what do we do? For starters, we don’t open our door to anyone we don’t recognize. It may feel like the country up here, but we live in a big city with big-city crime.

Second, call 911 if you feel threatened and the nonemergency number (510-777-3333) if you don’t. Either way, call, because police say they want to find these guys and check out each one’s credentials.

Third, if you do encounter a magazine salesperson, don’t give them cash or a check. Police say the money is almost always pocketed by the solicitor, and the customer never sees the magazines.

And last, support activities and programs that encourage teens and young adults to be the best they can be, such as the Coaches Against Gun Violence campaign recently launched at some Oakland public schools.

The perfect pair

If a glass of wine is good for you, imagine what a winemaker dinner can do for your health. The Claremont Resort and Spa has partnered with six local vintners to offer wine dinners each month through June.

Last week’s event featured the wonderful wines of Nicholson Ranch in Sonoma County. An award-winning chardonnay complimented the first course — a chilled tiger prawn salad. An earthy pinot noir paired perfectly with the black truffle gnocchi. With every offering, the grape grower and the winemaker shared their thoughts and opened our minds to new culinary delights.

All this, as we watched the sun set over our beautiful bay. Information on the winemaker series can be found at http://www.claremontresort.com.

Daddy’s little girl

With all the mixed-up news these days, it’s nice to celebrate something old-fashioned. Last weekend’s father-daughter dance was a magical time at the Oakland Hills Tennis Club.

The event is a fund-raiser for Corpus Christi School and a big night for little girls, who get all dressed up and even buy their dads boutonnieres. Of course, the fathers reciprocate, pinning lovely corsages on their daughter’s fancy party dresses. Then they share tea cakes and other fairy-tale treats as they twirl across the dance floor. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Blight alert

Vandals managed to make a mess of our restrooms at Shepherd Canyon Park. The whole building was covered with “tags” earlier this week — a real eyesore as thousands of motorists drive by each day. With a city maintenance yard right next door, it took Public Works just a few days to clean up this graffiti, though a large mark by the playground is still there.

Punny plate

Seen Feb. 14 on a crimson sedan in the Oakland Hills, the vanity plate IDMND with a picture of a heart at the end. “How appropriate,” writes John D., that the motorist was demanding love — on Valentine’s Day.

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