Several North Beacon Hill neighbors on the beaconhill mailing list have recently had encounters with a panhandler who sounds familiar. It may be the same fellow who has been seen in the CD and previously on Beacon Hill, or someone else who is running a similar scam.
The basic interaction typically goes like this:
- He knocks on your door and asks for a small amount of money to pay a locksmith because he is locked out of his house or his car.
- He says he’s gay, and he’s new in the neighborhood and just moved nearby with his boyfriend. (Sometimes he gives a location that is known to be false.)
- He usually claims to be a janitor at a nearby school or university. (It has been verified that he does not work at Beacon Hill International School as he claimed to at least one individual.)
He is African-American, about 5′ 9″, 145 pounds, and probably somewhere around 45 years old.
If it is the same person who has done this previously in the CD, he may be the well-known “Patrick” who has been telling this particular story, with variations, for at least 14 years. However, there may be more than one person who does this; the panhandler in other neighborhoods has been described with heights ranging from 5’7″ to 6’0″, and one person in the Roosevelt neighborhood last month (described as “younger-looking,” unlike Patrick) used a different name, “Clark Lewis.”
There are many reports of this activity from other neighborhoods.
- Roosevelt, April 2011: note the references in the comments to “Patrick the UW janitor.”
- Central District, February 2011.
- Maple Leaf, January 2011: he calls himself “Patrick Lewis.”
- Green Lake, December 2010: “a maintenance person at Roosevelt High School,” described as “about 5’8″ and 150 pounds. He is a black man in his 40s, slightly balding.”
- Central District, February 2010: commenter Kristo describes Patrick as follows:
“I’d say he’s in his late 40s, about 5’7″ and 150 lbs, African American, salt and pepper beard/hair, baseball cap, dark jeans and a black and tan jacket. Talks a mile a minute, opening with, ‘Hey, I’m Patrick—I’m gay!’ and then followed with a very well-rehearsed, almost commercial-like, ‘Have you ever locked yourself out of your house?'”
- Central District, January 2010.
- Central District, December 2009: This time, a “janitor at Garfield.”
There is no concrete evidence that he is casing houses or is a danger to anything other than your wallet. However, please be aware that if someone approaches you with this story, it is probably a scam.
14 thoughts on “We’ve heard this “locked out” plea before”
The guy knocked on my door at 20th and Lander about 2 months ago with exactly that script. Even a vague wave down the street when saying how he was a new neighbor. The scam alert kicked in with the gay bit – didn’t really seem germane to being locked out, but did seem like an over the top attempt for “trust me, no gay person could possibly be trying to con you out of twenty bucks”.
Hah. I gave this guy $20 once. Good for him.
Why is this filed under Crime? You’re choosing to give him money, he’s asking politely… If you’re gullible enough (as I was) to fall for it, it’s your own damn fault.
He was at my house near the Mt. Baker lightrail with the same story on 5/12.
I was once locked out w/o my wallet and had to have a locksmith let me in. He did not require upfront payment. He let me get money out of the house.
I think I have heard someone mentioning their encounter with this person in the U District area. Pretty much this guy is just everywhere.
The other day we were approached by a guy who was trying to sell us some free literature he probably grabbed from stands at Red Apple. The proceeds, he told us, would go to help “the kids.”
Well, I’d seen him do this one before. It must have been more than five years ago because it was at our old house. That time I turned from the front door and yelled back into the house “Hey, there’s a guy here trying to scam me! Do we have a couple bucks to give him so he’ll stop talking?” He took the money without saying another word.
This time he didn’t get anything. I’m sure other people have run into him as well.
On Friday June 3, 2011, I saw him wearing a pink dress shirt and at the end of the off-ramp NORTHBOUND from I-5 at Dearborn Street. So, if you were turning left at Dearborn, you would have seen him. He was holding a GAS CAN, so it looks like he’s doing the “need $4 for gas” routine. The FOURTEEN YEARS is spot-on. In 1997, at the KFC on Rainier, he tried $4 with gas can. A month later in 1997, in NORTHGATE Arco AMPM, he asked my friend, “do you know about cars?” In 2002, he was at QFC (not KFC, evidently he’s operated at both) and mentioned his wife and a broken down car. Now in 2003, I drove by Imperial Bowling Lanes, saw him, and he pointed at me. I WANTED to say, “car problems again” and drive off, but just drove off. Hadn’t seen him since 2003, but read about him lately, and now he was back at it in 2011 off of the Interstate 5 off ramp at Dearborn Street.
Sadly I was the victim of this same scam this morning but over in Eastlake. Around 7AM, an African American man knocked on my front door claiming to be my gay neighbor Patrick who just moved in across the street from New Jersey with his boyfriend who works for Microsoft. He also claimed that he is a janitor at UW, that his boyfriend had already gone to work, and that he’d locked himself out. He said he’d called the locksmith, who was waiting, but didn’t have enough cash to pay him and could I loan him $14. I loaned it to him and, though he said he’d be right back to repay it, he never returned. It very much occurred to me at the time that it might be a scam but I wanted to trust him just the same. So lesson learned I guess. Just know he’s still out there making the rounds and get the word out if you can.
A guy who fits this description exactly came to my door this evening on North Beacon Hill (March 2012). He is clearly still running the scam so beware and tell your neighbors.
This sounds hauntingly similar to what happened at my friends apartments he manages in Eastlake.
A man knocked on the door of a women’s apartment saying he was locked out of his that his boyfriend and him got into a fight and needed money for a locksmith or a cab. (this all happened through her door as it was 2am)
She said he was a mae African American man roughly around 6 feet tall.
The next day when she returned home from work her aparment door had been kicked in and her aparment ransacked….
Not sure if it’s the same person or a “copy cat” but sounds VERY similar.
According to description, same guy was around North Capitol Hill area again. This is June 2012 and scammer has been around for years. He claimed to be a janitor in a nearby school. The story was usual: “My name is Patrick. I just moved in with his friend who works for Microsoft. I am $3 short to pay $45 for a locksmith”. Beware!
Patrick is back, working 15th Ave South just north of Spokane St. Same story, changes it up instantly when called out on it.
Working Columbia City now…just called the cops.
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