S.W. woman opens door to find suspicious salesman

SOUTH WHITLEY — A rural South Whitley woman opened her door Friday afternoon to a man claiming to be selling cleaning chemicals to households in the area, instead the man placed the bottle next to her nose making her feel instantly nauseous and dizzy. The victim told police she immediately shut the door and locked it and the men left. She told police that a white male in his 30s had knocked on her door shortly after 3 p.m. and said he was selling chemicals. He had the bottle behind his back and when she stuck her head outside the door he pulled the bottle from behind his back, took off his stocking cap, wrapped it around the bottle and placed it next to her nose.In an e-mail sent to friends and co-workers and forwarded to the newspaper, the victim said the smell was so strong that if she’d had to smell it for two more seconds she would have passed out. Instead, she shut the door and struggled to make her way to her cell phone. In her e-mail she said when the man saw her get on the phone, he ran back to a white van, with a luggage rack on top and graphics on the side panels, and left quickly with another white male. The duo headed south on state Route 5. Police searched the area but were unable to locate the van or the subjects.Whitley County Sheriff Mark Hodges said today that police are still looking for the van, and have sent a release to other agencies with the information. He said that he has not heard of any other incidents like this in northern Indiana. Hodges believes that anyone who was legitimately trying to sell household chemicals wouldn’t have left the scene without trying to offer first aid or call for help. He also said it appears to be an isolated incident as there are no reports of any other households being approached in the same manner or any reports of break-ins occurring.Regardless of the isolated nature of the incident, Hodges reminds residents to be cautious and vigilant when opening the door to any stranger. He also said residents should try to gather as much information as they can when faced with a suspicious situation, and act as they feel is appropriate.“Sadly, this is what our society has come to,” he said. “The days of allowing someone in your home to use your phone are long gone.”