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Alarm salesmen anger neighbors in aftermath of tragic burglary

STORY BY EILEEN KELLEY, (Week of December 8, 2011)
Photo: An ADT security sign on the lawn of a Fiddlewood Rd home.

In the days that followed the Nov. 17 shooting death of Brian Simpson after he walked into his Central Beach home as it was being robbed, sales people began knocking on doors in the neighborhood offering steep discounts for the installation of alarm systems.

In a matter of about 45 minutes, Sonny Bishop had two different sales people believed to be from a Melbourne-area satellite office of a Tampa/St. Petersburg security company come to his door.

Bishop said he heard his wife talking to a woman about the security system. After the woman left without a signed contract, a man showed up at the door.

“It’s free,” Bishop said the man told him through the door.

Bishop wasn’t hooked. In fact, he was quite put off. “They are taking advantage of the situation here,” he said.

Others felt the same way.

In one day, 10 Central Beach residents called Vero Beach police to report that people claiming to be from security giant ADT were roaming the streets of their neighborhood and aggressively trying to peddle the systems, officials with the police department said.

After the first call Nov. 21, police searched the area in a patrol car until they found the sales people.

Capt. Keith Touchberry said the sales people were told about the city’s ordinance which makes it unlawful to solicit without a permit.

Attempts to reach the sales manager of Absolute Security, which will install ADT security systems, were unsuccessful as his cell phone number is currently out of service. 

The salespeople apparently didn't take the Nov. 22 warning from police seriously.

One resident said even after the sales people were chased away, they returned to the neighborhood and knocked on his door.

The resident said he felt the only way he could get the salesperson out of his home after about an hour of listening to the sales spiel was by agreeing to sign up for the burglar alarm service.

He then cancelled after making a phone call the next day.

Absolute Security is known to be aggressive, said Roger Marcil, owner of the Vero Beach-based security company Absolute Protection Team, Inc.

Marcil said his company called Vero Beach police after Simpson’s death to see if it was OK for them to canvass the neighborhood.

Marcil said police told him the timing wasn’t good because residents were on guard and on edge in the days after the homicide, and the last thing they needed were strangers knocking on their doors.

Marcil, a Central Beach resident, said his company mailed information to residents and so far their response has been good and he's signed up new customers.

One new customer is the Simpson family.

Marcil said he received a phone call from a current customer in Central Beach asking about the cost to get a system for the Simpson family.

Marcil took it a step further.

The Simpsons, Marcil said, received the installation free and will also not have to pay the $40 monthly monitoring fee.

Maurie Miller who lives down the street from the Simpsons had a new security system put in after the Simpson killing.

“They did an amazing job,” Miller said of the work by the Absolute Security people.

In Miller’s case, sales agents didn’t knock on her door. She said she ran into a person representing the company at a gasoline station in the Lakeland area when she was travelling recently and they exchanged numbers to set up a time to get the security service.

“All they want to do is help,” Miller said. “I just don’t understand the way people are looking at it as if they are being taken advantage of.”