Suspicious Landscaping

S. writes:

A couple came through my gate and into my yard, on Sunnyside in the 4000 block. When they heard me working the man said he was Anthony and that he was looking for landscaping work. I told him to leave and he said he was passing out flyers. Normally people leave flyers at the mailbox or on the gate, not inside the yard. This was on 12/24 when a lot of people are out of town. My guess is they were looking for open doors where they could snatch a purse but could have been casing houses. Not a lot of landscaping to be done at Christmas.

I went out into the street a few minutes later and saw them on the 4100 block. I looked to see if they’d left me or my neighbor any flyers but they had not. The man was black, medium build and the woman was white and overweight with chin length grey hair.

UPDATE: Several commenters have noted that they have interacted with the same people, and believe they are totally legit.

  • Diane

    the same couple came by on Burke a few weeks ago, and I had a different impression. I was out raking and done as much as I wanted done, but I got to chat with the woman for a little while. She told me that her husband used to do yard work and landscaping but that they had lost their truck and tools, and so now were looking for small odd jobs where they would use the homeowner’s rakes and shovels. She gave me a small flyer but was being frugal with them. They take the bus up from where they are living now to look for jobs, and Wallingford has been a good neighborhood for them. My sense was that they are very down on their luck and would not refuse a handout, but not that they were casing the neighborhood.

  • Chuck

    They were here about an hour ago, seemed fairly legit in the short conversation I had on my porch. I’m pretty unconcerned about them, honestly.

  • Jeanette Norris

    Anthony has done work for us and others on our block in Wallingford. He came by our house on the 24th also. He is legit, just poor and always looking for work.

  • walkinroun

    This is the kind of “front page” item that distresses me on Wallyhood. Someone interprets an innocent black person to be casing a home to steal or burglarize and Wallyhood give them a front page forum to lodge these assumptions. Only by reading the comments can viewers understand how totally off the mark the original post was. in the meantime, the post remains and reinforces racial stereotyping. Remove the post, Jordan.

    • Wallyhood

      I will update the post, not remove it (since then people who already read it wouldn’t be aware of the change).

      I disagree on the racial bit: there’s a white person AND a black person involved. I also received a complaint about the word “overweight”. The idea that information should be suppressed for fear of offending or reinforcing stereotypes is anathema to me.

      In the future, I would appreciate it if you would phrase that last sentence as a request, rather than an order.

    • Wallyhood

      Another way to think about this: would your advice be “If you see something suspicious, do not discuss with your neighbors, as it may reinforce racial stereotyping”? Or “If you see something suspicious that involves one or more stigmatized races, do not discuss it with your neighbors, as it may be reinforce racial stereotyping”?

      What is someone who sees something ambiguous and suspicious supposed to do, in your opinion? Report it to the police (who are notoriously unresponsive) but not let anyone else know?

    • QueenLaTonsil

      Why do you assume the black person was considered suspicious? There was a white person there, too, and they both trespassed on this person’s property. Are you a racist?

      • walkinroun

        Ugh.

        First, this blog post should have been entitled Suspicious
        Property Owner rather than Suspicious Landscapers.

        Second, when the moderator clearly understood that the
        property owner’s suspicions were wrong, that the couple were known and named, and that they were legitimately trying to find work, I believe he should have removed the post. Allowing the post to remain, in my opinion, does more harm than good on several levels.

        Third, it is indeed my belief that the property owner jumped
        to conclusions about this couple because of the presence of the black man. There is a whole body of scholarly and
        anecdotal work outlining the sometimes subliminal, sometimes intentional, and tragically, statistically consequential act of attributing criminality to black
        males in this country stretching back hundreds of years and still very much in evidence. I believe it is the responsibility of every single citizen of this country to work to understand,
        address and change the insidious nature of racism in America and the way it damages so many people.

        Fourth, I know of no studies or evidence that older
        overweight white women have currently or historically been subjected to assumptions of criminality. My guess is that had this woman approached the property owner by herself, this
        post would not have occurred.

  • Donn

    It would be easier to defend this if it were more fact and less surmise. Is the point that lucky wallyhood.org readers will benefit from “Saffron’s” street smarts and be on their guard when these might-be-rascals come calling? Who’s surprised to see how that turned out?

    More awareness is good, about possible ulterior motives of strangers who show up on your doorstep. What are the scams, how do burglars operate, what should you do? “Two strangers talked to me, and I assumed the worst about their intentions” doesn’t add up to much, and leaves you open to the kind of criticism you’re getting because it boils done to not much more than those physical attributes. (What about the grey hair, no one offended by that?)

  • DOUG.

    My two cents: Emails like Saffron’s should not be reposted verbatim without caveats or disclaimers. If this was my blog post, I would’ve immediately followed up with, “Have any other people in the neighborhood interacted with this couple? Any idea if they are legit?”

    This couple’s behavior is barely borderline suspicious, so regardless of their race or weight, these people should be given the benefit of the doubt before being publicly shamed based upon a single semi-anonymous email.

    • Wallyhood

      I will endeavor to disclaim and caveat in the future. You are right.

  • Donn

    Like “this looks pretty goofy to me, so take it with more than a grain of salt, and what’s more it’s unfortunate that it seems to be coming from a racist perspective, but …”? The thing is, Saffron’s right to be a little suspicious of strangers cruising the neighborhood, so should we all be. The decision that these suspicions were `fit to print’ is yours, and that’s categorically different. You bear the responsibility for this decision and can’t easily escape it with some kind of disclaimer, short of something like the above that practically holds the author up to ridicule.

  • wildnwonderful

    ok I forgot to sign in an dafter a long thing of redoing a password and re entering this site my 100 word essay is gone. Briefly, use race to describel use clothing to describe; use body size to describe; use car info to describe.. use none to defame another.

    • Lisa

      Honestly, people, a little bit of overreacting? Wallingford has had more than its share of crime and I’m happy Wallyhood reports any and all “suspicious” behavior. As with this story, others report in with their experiences and we are all made aware of a problem and to watch out for it or like in this case, it seems like these people really are just looking for work. It’s astounding to me how many of you people immediately jump on the “racist” bandwagon whenever a physical description is given. Kind of like how The Seattle Times rarely gives any kind of physical description when reporting a crime lest, heaven forbid!, anyone get offended. Jordan, please keep the info coming and does anyone know how to reach this Anthony person? I could give him a little work raking leaves or painting a gate or something similar.

      • walkinroun

        No crime was committed. There was no suspicious behavior, only a suspicious property owner. There is no racist bandwagon, only an effort to identify and address instances where stereotyping and unfair assumptions are made and perpetuated.

        • Lisa

          And walkinroun continues the hairsplitting… oy vey. The assumptions were just that-assumptions; nothing unfair, just reasonable, and helping to keep us all informed and aware.

          • walkinroun

            Lisa, this is not hairsplitting. These types of assumptions cause real pain and distress. The particular suspicions that were the subject of this post were unfounded and implied criminal motives in innocent people. Hardly reasonable, hardly fair and not at all helpful.

          • Lisa

            Yep, I definitely would have felt great pain and distress if those people HAD been casing the ‘hood and I’d been a target. Better safe than sorry! You and I will continue to disagree on this subject. And I will continue to welcome any comments made that could alert me to possible danger in the ‘hood. Glad this sitch turned out to be okay and hopefully it’s all puppies and rainbows for the rest of the new year!

          • walkinroun

            Well, Lisa, we differ because I would not want someone else to suffer needlessly or be treated unjustly in order for me to feel secure or my purported safety to be preserved.

          • Donn

            I’d be more into it, if this were really an effective way to make the neighborhood safe. This article didn’t provide any information about the couple that you couldn’t have better determined on the spot if they called on you. If a stranger knocks on your door, does it matter to you whether you’ve heard about that particular individual on wallyhood? I hope not!

  • Miles

    Pathetic.

  • Andrea

    Just so you all know, they just came by my house and offered to “clean up our yard”. I haven’t had time to seriously inspect their work, but it seems reasonable from the window. It was a crew of 3 and they worked for 1.5 hours and they didn’t charge an unreasonable amount.

  • Carole Landisman

    Hi there-
    The couple in question are Anthony and Helen, and their landscaping company is Adams’ Landscaping Services. They can be reached at 253-350-2209 or 206-258-1201.
    They knocked on our door Friday afternoon, and we hired them to clean up our completely overgrown front yard (we haven’t touched it since we moved in ~2 yrs ago). They did a great job, and it’s clear that Anthony in particular is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about landscaping (their flyer says they have 30 yrs of experience); that said, they prefer to give a quote for the job, as opposed to an hourly rate. They are friendly and gracious and have indeed fallen on hard times. So if you need yard work done and would like to help some hardworking, honest people regain their footing, give them a call.

Subscribe to Wallyhood

Never miss a story! Enter your e-mail address to receive Wallyhood to your inbox.

Email Address