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“Stranger with puppy” approaches children in Mason City; residents concerned

This news story was published on June 20, 2013.
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The white van seen by residents.

The white van seen by residents.  Photo taken by nearby residents.

MASON CITY – Area residents told Thursday that they are concerned about a man they say approached children while carrying a puppy.

Police confirmed today that Wednesday night at 8:43 pm, a resident in the 200 block of South Louisiana reported a man had been at their residence a few minutes earlier. The man claimed to be a salesman for DirectTV but had a dog with him and spoke to a 5 yr-old son at the residence. The salesperson was driving a white van with Nebraska plates. The caller said they have had prior contacts from other DirectTV salespeople recently. The prior salesperson(s) drove a vehicle with MO plates.

“Whether the man was attempting to solicit for DirectTV in the area last night is unknown. The caller was concerned due to the stranger approaching her son with a puppy at 8:30 at night driving a van with out of state plates,” Mason City police stated.

A Mason City woman told NIT Thursday that the man “came to my friends house two nights in a row, the second time did not talk about DirecTV and had a puppy. Interacted with her 5 year old. Has happened after dinner time both nights.”

“Last night it was said that he just appears like out of nowhere and she hasn’t seen him going to any other houses,” the woman continued. “They have 3 small children that are always outside playing (supervised of course). He brought the puppy up on to their porch and was talking to the 5 year old, but not about DirectTV. The first night he came up and asked if the dish was current. Second night, no tv talk.

“We’re gonna be on the lookout for that van today. It’s not good.”

Anyone that see any suspicious activity should call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.

Another shot of the van, taken by nearby residents.

Another shot of the van, taken by nearby residents.

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51 Responses to “Stranger with puppy” approaches children in Mason City; residents concerned

  1. LVS

    LVS Reply Report comment

    June 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

    This is a Old, Old story. It has no interest now.

  2. Reply Report comment

    June 4, 2014 at 5:56 am

    All door to door sales should be banned. Unless you’re invited you have no business bothering homes. Puppy or no puppy, this guy should’ve bounced out of town by The Police, not the people. No legitimate salesman would use a puppy to seduce children of potential customers. Police DO YOUR JOB.

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 4, 2014 at 7:12 am

      Don’t forget junk mail, spammers, and telemarketers. No unsolicited sales of any kind! Tear down the billboards! Smash your tv’s! Refuse to handle print media with any advertising in it! Peter, lead the way!

  3. April Kinney Reply Report comment

    June 3, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Christopher Todd Setterholm

    Is trying to sell male children on a Spokane, was Facebook sales site called Spokane free classifieds. There are at least a dozen parents contacting authorities as we speak. It would be helpful if we can get info on who to contact in his hometown of mason city, ia. Please contact me via email

  4. KNOWS BETTER Reply Report comment

    June 23, 2013 at 11:27 am


  5. sherryl Reply Report comment

    June 22, 2013 at 3:51 pm


  6. Robin Ragsdale

    Robin Ragsdale Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Tuesday evening round 9ish a guy representing Direct TV rang my door bell, he was asking all kinds of questions relative to direct tv, even had literature with him.. I found him a little weird~ no yorkie was with him and the only puppy ‘in sight’ was my 8 wk old pit bull puppy… the guy asked if he could have my dog though, of course I said hell NO!! My house is pictured in this photo so this incident hits close to home no pun intended- my fiancé, children (16 & 13), and I just took possession and moved into the neighborhood June 1st… It’s nice to know times I’m not at home~ it’s still being looked out for!!

  7. kassie Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Is it possible for this site to print a retraction? Its definitely NOT a white van. Its a silver/light colored new dodge Dakota with UTAH plates. The van belongs to my neighbors dad. They just moved into the neighborhood so I feel bad for them. My neighbors are very observant and are being cautious, just like what you would want in a neighbor. But a mistake was made in identifying the correct vehicle that guy was driving

    • 50 MILES SOUTH Reply Report comment

      June 22, 2013 at 12:26 am

      first off. a Dodge Dakota is a pickup truck and NOT a van. second, how many new people are in this block anyway? and both have had their dad there with a vehicle in question. NOW THATS WEIRD.

      • 50 MILES SOUTH Reply Report comment

        June 22, 2013 at 12:28 am


  8. levelheaded Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Based off the article, it makes sense that everyone is rattled and getting ready to pounce on the guy. But after reading responses, this is getting petty. Yes, he should go talk to the PD if he is a legitimate contracted salesman so that we can put everyone’s mind at ease. I agree with that 100%. With that said, how does immediately jumping to violence and rough conversations going to make the situation any better?? Amanda Merches said her neighbors must not be very observant because they haven’t noticed that the van belonged to her dad, but then quickly turns around and says from the short time she’s lived there, she hasn’t noticed a yorkie in the neighborhood. Sorry Amanda, but you’re clearly not any more observant than your neighbors. The fact that you haven’t seen that dog, doesn’t make what the man told you, false. Has anyone stopped to think that MAYBE he really does do the work he says he does and is just socially dysfunctional; lacks knowledge of normal social queues?? I’m not sticking up for the guy or saying that he isn’t what everyone is suggesting, but I am saying that everyone is being a little quick to judge. Bad things have happened so it’s normal to be paranoid, but lets not get extreme based off of hearsay. Other than “bad vibes” has anything happened to suggest that the guy is actually doing what everyone is accusing him of doing? Put yourself in the guy’s shoes and think how you would feel if you hardly had the chance to reconcile your reputation. Let’s not do damage to his life with false accusations. We have already provided incorrect information on the vehicle he is supposedly driving around town. Maybe we should stop being so quick to gossip and give the Police Department some time to provide answers. I have a cousin who does the same line of work as a contracted salesman for an alarm company and his friend does the same thing for pest control. Because of which, I have an understanding of the frustration these people go through when they are trying to make a living and are getting accused of criminal activity. Again, I am not saying the man isn’t a fraud or doing anything illegal, but I’m not saying he is either. If the guy is guilty of illegal activity, I truly hope he gets what he deserves. My intention on even saying anything at all was to give everyone a little perspective.

    • My Voice Reply Report comment

      June 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      That’s a really good level headed post. Thank you for that. I only have one problem with it…”Sorry Amanda, but you’re clearly not any more observant than your neighbors. The fact that you haven’t seen that dog, doesn’t make what the man told you, false”. Maybe Amanda hasn’t seen the dog before because it was NEVER around before. So, you can’t say she clearly isn’t very observant either. Maybe she the queen of observant and this dog just showed up when this guy did. Just a point I wanted to make. Other than that….like I said, good post.

      What I’m surprised that no one here has mentioned is the fact that no one involved asked for CREDENTIALS. You just let some strange sales guy in your house without proper ID? Even with ID, it can still be fake but you don’t ask for it??? Wow, NO ONE comes into my house without knowing who they are. I go outside to talk when strangers come a knockin, and that’s IF I’m somewhat interested in finding out more of what they have to say otherwise it’s just a open door with “fangs” behind me standing guard salivating. I’m on the protective side tho, not the nieve side like most Liberals.