Published in the September 10, 2015 edition

NORTH READING — Police in Wakefield, Reading and North Reading are investigating a pattern of burglaries and larcenies that appear to be connected to employees of the same door–to–door solicitation company.

North Reading Police Chief Michael P. Murphy, Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith, and Reading Police Chief James Cormier report that police in all three communities are investigating a pattern of burglaries and larcenies that appear to be connected to employees of the same door-to-door solicitation company.

Employees for a Willis, Texas-based company, Urban Nation are allegedly responsible for the break–ins, according to police, which began late this week.

“It appears that an out–of–state company has transported more than a dozen people into our area and tasked them with selling magazine subscriptions,” Chief Murphy said. “When no one is home, we know of at least one salesmen that broke into a home in Reading and others helping themselves to packages left on the doorsteps in Wakefield. We want to get the word out about this behavior so that residents will be on their guard.”

According to investigators, the burglars/solicitors have been knocking on front doors for a sales call and then breaking in, usually through a rear door, if no one appears to be home.

On Thursday, Sept. 3, the Wakefield Police Department investigated a case in which an Urban Nation solicitor allegedly went through a parcel left on a homeowner’s front steps.

The Reading Police Department, on Friday, arrested a man from Urban Nation, after police, responding to calls about aggressive unregistered solicitors, allegedly found him with stolen merchandise from a home on Van Norden Road in Reading.

Laderius Alton Lowe, age 22, of Detroit, was charged with Breaking and Entering During the Daytime with the Intention to Commit a Felony and Receiving Stolen Property over $250.

Also on Friday, the North Reading Police received several calls for solicitors going door to door. Homeowners described the solicitor as aggressive in his sales pitch.

Police later encountered another solicitor from Detriot who informed them he works for Urban Nation. An investigation indicated that the dozen or so men from all over the country, including Detroit, St. Louis, and Washington D.C. were dropped off by a rental van in North Reading to conduct their solicitations and that as many as 100 people may have been transported into the Boston area by this company.

“This is a disturbing situation in which a company is allegedly flagrantly violating the law by dropping off unlicensed solicitors who appear to be helping themselves to packages and items from homes in multiple communities,” Chief Smith said. “However, the teamwork and constant communication between municipal law enforcement agencies quickly identified this pattern of behavior, and now we are alerting the public.”

Homeowners are asked to call their local Police Departments if they see any suspicious people or aggressive solicitors in their neighborhoods. While local ordinances vary, North Reading and Reading have bylaws preventing people soliciting door to door without properly registering with the Police beforehand. This process consists of a criminal background check, including fingerprints, and the Chief of Police has the right to refuse permission based on this check.

Police have determined that several of the Urban Nation solicitors have long criminal histories including burglary and larceny in other states.

“We are just grateful that no one has gotten hurt yet as this influx of career criminals has literally been delivered to our doorsteps,” Chief Cormier said. “We will be aggressively patrolling our communities, and we ask everyone to remain vigilant. When in doubt, dial 911.”