Albany, N.Y., slams firm for unlicensed alarm sales

ALBANY - Unlicensed door-to-door salesmen are alarming city residents with an intense pitch for home-security systems, city officials said Thursday.

APX Alarm Security Solutions was also told to stop telling homeowners that Albany police statistics show one out of three homes in the city would be burglarized.

City Clerk John Marsolais said the firm applied for a license for door-to-door sales on June 11. He said he told sales manager Carlos Luna city police had to review the application before a permit could be issued.

The next day, Marsolais said he was stunned to find two salesmen working his street.

"We've received a number of phone calls," he said. "His sales force is still out, and people seem to be alarmed at the tactics they've been using. It's frightening people."

Luna said the firm paid $3,990 for permits and was told they would be issued in a week. After a week passed, he said, workers began approaching residents. The sales manager met with city police Thursday and said he agreed to stop until the permits are issued.

James Miller, city police spokesman, said Luna was also told his sales force needed to stop crediting statistics to the department. "They are not to use the Albany Police Department as a reference," Miller said. "It was misleading, the information they were providing."

Luna blamed the Albany crime statistic on a single salesman who he said was pulled off the street for retraining.

"There is an FBI statistic that one out of three homes in the United States will be broken into," he said, and the employee improperly attributed the statistic to city police.

Assemblyman Jack McEneny, D-Albany, was among those who got the pitch.

"They were perfectly polite, clean-cut college kids," he said.

But McEneny said he was concerned by the sales tactics and time of day the pitches were being made. He was approached after stopping home briefly around 3 p.m., a time when most people are working and those at home are likely to be seniors or the disabled.

"They said `according to Albany police, one in three homes will be robbed in the next five years,' " he said.

Given the recent spate of shootings in the city, McEneny said, "it gave me a very bad taste. It's very alarmist and scare-mongering. We haven't had a lot of robberies in the neighborhood."

The firm was not selling the systems, Luna said, it was approaching people who live in highly visible corner homes to give them the system for free in return for a prominently displayed sign, he said.

"That's our form of advertising," he said.

He also said the firm doesn't target seniors: "We target corner homes because that's where we get the most attention."