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News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the North Iowa Region
• Founded 2010

“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 NorthIowaToday.com 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 Reply Report comment

    June 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

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

  2. Philosophus 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 aprilkinney@icloud.com

  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. jojo1girl 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.

  9. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Better safe than sorry yes, but he was a legit salesman who had borrowed the puppy from a neighbor. He also fought in Iraq for us. So be careful who you judge. Your basically calling someone who fought for your freedom a possible ped.

  10. 50 MILES SOUTH Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Matt or anyone: whats the law concerning a door to door peddler or salesman. Do they need to have a permit? Or are they exempt in any way?

    • LVS Reply Report comment

      June 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      50 Miles South-Each town does it differently. Some do not require permits and others do. Mason City requires them but I don’t think they police it very well. Northwood also requires a permit.

  11. Im Watching Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I don’t think people are over reacting at all. Just a reminder to everyone that not only could this be a predator not to just children but to others, as well. It could also be a home invasion set up. Keep your eyes open children and your selves safe!

  12. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 11:56 am

    He came to my house and my cousin was here with me my mom was outside talking to my mom with a little pet Yorkie I looked outside my window and he waved and smiled at me I went back to watching a movie with my cousin my cousin also looked out the window he did the same she just ran back over here he then did not ask to walk in the house but he did walk into the house and said “I know you want to come out and per my dog” we just didn’t feel comfortable at all my mom said there busy watching a movie so he sat back down and chatted with my mom for a very long time after my mom told us that he was trying to make friends and make the kids more comfortable with him so next time he comes they will let him in he also asked questions like when is your husband he when does he work when do you work this is very strang to us

  13. Mr. Bojangles Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 9:22 am

    If he shows up around my place, I’ll knock him out and keep his puppy. Nobody messes with my family.

  14. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 8:55 am

    This whole thing is out of control.

  15. Alert Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Take the photo down please. Since we now know it’s the wrong van. Nothing like getting a posse after someone innocent. Sheesh.

  16. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 2:14 am

    This same kind of situation happened late yesterday afternoon near westtown charlie brown. The kids came and told myself an another adult. If I catch this guy, hes gonna wish he were dead!

  17. patty recupido Reply Report comment

    June 21, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I do not think people are over reacting to this situation after we’ve already seen how a 15 year old was kidnapped and murdered and her 12 year old friend kidnapped but luckily escaped and the situation with Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook. I don’t care if anyone thinks I’m paranoid or not…it’s better to be safe than sorry and get this checked out and if nobody has anything to hide then they’d have no problem speaking with the police. It sounds like from the conversations on here that this van is not the vehicle, but maybe a white dodge truck? Does anyone have the plate number from the white dodge truck that was mentioned? It doesn’t hurt for all of us to know it so we can keep an eye out and contact police if we see it and let them speak with whoever it is.

  18. 50 MILES SOUTH Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Matt: you might want to remove the pictures as we now know they are not the correct vehicle. If its a white dodge truck like someone stated, then people need to learn the difference between vehicles. good example of how trouble can happen to innocent people.

  19. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Wow, Scary

    • Anonymous Reply Report comment

      June 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      This same guy was on the 200 block of s Indiana tonight.I did call police not sure if they found him..

  20. kassie Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    The direct t.v also was at our house. That wasn’t his van. He had like a white new small Dodge? truck with out of town plates. The next day for a good while he was parked in front of my house but appeared to be installing for my neighbor.

  21. chris Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    i live right behind the white van. it belongs to my father in-law who was at my house helping with a plumbing issue. the white van has nothing to do with the creepy direct tv guy who also came by the house with a random puppy. i don’t know what his deal is, but that van does not go with him.

    • My Voice Reply Report comment

      June 20, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Hey Chris, thanks for that info. Why do you think the plates came up a lame duck?

      • Amanda Merches Reply Report comment

        June 20, 2013 at 7:14 pm

        I have no idea why the plates came up lame duck. The white van belongs to my dad he works for powertech the van came out of nebraska thats why he has nebraska license plate but it is his work truck and will be around the house quite a bit since he is helping us install lights and we have had sewer problems this week he was at our house with the truck tuesday night when creepy direct tv guy came and he was there at our house when scary direct tv guy came with puppy last night his truck has nothing to do with creepy direct tv guy

      • Concern Reply Report comment

        June 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm

        Maybe “chris” is the creey guy and is trying to throw everyone off track, oviously people saw the guy get in the van? Why would they jus “assume” its that ar in NO ONE saw him get in it? not likly.

        • Amanda Merches Reply Report comment

          June 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm

          I’m married to Chris and I assure you he’s not the creepy direct tv guy he was about to kick creepy direct tv guy out of our house if youre really wanting to know you can come to 229 s louisiana ave that’s where we live

        • Amanda Merches Reply Report comment

          June 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm

          the guy maybe driving a white van like that one but that white van with the nebraska license plate that was in front of my house with the orange ladders that’s in the pictures is my dads work truck it was there at my house tuesday night and last night maybe neighbors arent very observant

      • My Voice Reply Report comment

        June 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        I believe them. Give them a break.

    • Lucanic Reply Report comment

      June 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      You guys thought he was creepy too? Did you talk to him?

      • Amanda Merches Reply Report comment

        June 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

        I didn’t talk to him much tuesday night when he came over the first time my husband Chris told him we werent interested in direct tv that night he was trying to sell direct tv apparantly. My parents were over and some folks from church were over so i didnt really talk to creepy guy but then he showed up again at our door last night with a yorkie said it was some older folks dog in the neighborhood he was taking around and he wasnt trying to sell direct tv i couldnt tell what he wanted i just knew i got a very bad vibe he knocked at the door and i said come in without looking that wont happen again and our door is locked and we got a baseball bat he chatted for a long time he claims to be from california and vegas i dont know if its accurate or not all i know is i was glad chris was home and my folks were here he really freaked me out

        • Sikastupd Reply Report comment

          June 20, 2013 at 8:58 pm

          Wow! Scary! Stay safe!

        • Lucanic Reply Report comment

          June 21, 2013 at 5:54 am

          He better never come back to S Louisiana again. Or maybe he should…it’s not going to be a pleasant conversation if he shows up. It’s too weird that he had a dog. There’s no reason a door-to-door sales person needs to have a dog with him, except to make young children comfortable. Hopefully this story was shared enough and he recognizes himself in it and gets out of town. Thanks Matt for quickly getting this information out. Better safe than sorry, we need to protect the children in this town.

        • Amanda Merches Reply Report comment

          June 21, 2013 at 4:01 pm

          He said the dog was an older couples on the street he was taking around. I just moved in June 1 and Chris has been living here since April 25th I don’t know the neighbors yet to know if anyone has a yorkie, but I’m assuming not. I havent seen the yorkie in the neighborhood before.

  22. HeyColombo Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    John Colombo, isnt Bookmeyer waitin for you in the bedroom? Run along.

    • Amanda Merches Reply Report comment

      June 20, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      I really hope the cops find him soon! I was quite glad he didnt show up at our house again. I think he came back the second time to see if we had kids and we don’t so that’s probably why he didnt come back again tonight. There’s so many weirdos out there.

  23. OMG! Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    I think this man/person may have been going door to door in Sheffield on Monday afternoon. My daughter answered the door to a man with a clipboard ask if we had any problems with our cable dish…

    • John Colombo Reply Report comment

      June 20, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      No, really the guys in Sheffield are actually selling DirecTV. I talked with him for a few minutes after I informed him we are already DirecTV subscribers.

      Honestly I think some people need to relax a little; service vans are everywhere, most of them are white, not every company advertises on the side of their van (or in this case independent contractor).

      Is the guy a creeper… maybe, or maybe he found the dog in the neighborhood and wanted to ask around and see if they knew where it came from. Labeling this as some sort of abduction, pedophile, whatever, before you have anything to back that up is a bit extreme.

      While I do applaud the parents for being proactive and calling authorities in this case I also think it’s inappropriate for a tabloid wannabe news outfit to publish things like this that could potentially cause a innocent person to be attacked by the trailer hippies that read this rancid website. I hate you facebook for making me come here.

      • My Voice Reply Report comment

        June 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm

        Surely you didn’t have to come here, it was a choice. Now, you can choose to leave. C ya.

  24. Brother Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Wouldn’t you think the logo or some kind of lettering would be on the van if they are selling a service?

  25. Matt Marquardt Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    UPDATE FROM MCPD: “The resident did provide the plate number to police last night. We had Dispatch run the plate last night but no record was found. We are trying to follow up with the state of Nebraska to see if they can clarify this response from their computer database.”

  26. Pee Wee Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Lock and load.

  27. jc Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    There are out of state direct TV people going door to door but they are driving minivans. Either way not good and it is only a block from my house.

  28. Hd Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Wouldn’t this be easily figured out by running plates and checking with direct tv? Where are those details?

  29. sloppy joe Reply Report comment

    June 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Chris setterholm or mike Peckham is Prolly who it is

    • durbg Reply Report comment

      June 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Mike Peckham doesn’t have a white van or a license. plus I think he already molested his puppy.