The Osage County Sheriff's Office has issued a public safety alert after several complaints by residents of people going door-to-door to sell educational materials.
Some of the residents claim the salespeople are casing homes in the western and southern parts of Osage County to potentially abduct children.
The Sheriff's Office confirms this is only speculation at this point, but they are investigating the claims.
The Sheriff's Office says they are working with the Jefferson City Police Department on this situation. JCPD confirmed there is a group of people with a valid business license selling education materials in the Capitol City-area. It's unknown if that group is the same group operating in Osage County.
On Wednesday, the Osage County Sheriff's Office released a second statement on their Facebook page:
Our post was intended to dispell those rumors but wanted to address the possibility of potential criminal activity. There are many different individuals being identified. Several are legitimate and others have been reported as suspicious such as lurking around people's back yards etc. The Sheriff's Office's intention is simply to inform residents of the situation and ask that you communicate with us if you believe criminal activity has or is about to occur in Osage County. If you live in another county please communicate with your local Sheriff's Office. We in no way want to create alarm or false concern but also want to ensure the safety of residents in Osage County.
Southwestern Advantage -- an educational materials distributor -- says there are legitimate door-to-door salespeople working in Mid-Missouri. They issued for the following statement:
The college students selling educational products are with our company - Southwestern Advantage. They are working throughout Osage County and the surrounding Columbia & St. Louis areas this summer as part of a sales and leadership program. They have Southwestern Advantage ID badges, company bookbags, sample products, and order forms.
Unfortunately, there have been some unsubstantiated rumors and misinformation about them being spread in an attempt to protect the community, but misinformation protects no-one and hurts more than helps.
As the Osage County Sheriff's Office has stated, these students have checked-in, exchanged contact info, been background checked, and received the proper licensing to do business in the area. We ask that any concerned homeowner simply request to see the credentials of the person knocking on their door. It is issued by the local authorities, and they are required to visibly carry it with them.
The Sheriff's Office is doing an outstanding job protecting families and have been very helpful in sharing the facts about our students who are working in Osage County, and we thank them for their service.
For further information, please call Southwestern Advantage at 888-602-7867 or email us.
Osage County officials are asking anyone who comes in contact with the salespeople to call dispatchers at 573-897-3107 with a description of the individuals and vehicle.