For a month, residents of the upper 16th Street-Georgia Avenue NW area had complained to D.C. Police about the big, smooth-taking "Sears man" who came through the neighborhoods inveigling people to pay him cash, in advance, for discounted TV sets.
The only problem was he never furnished any TV sets. Fourth District police officials alerted neighborhood civic associations and church groups. An informal police-citizen watch was set up, and on Feb. 23, an arrest was made.
The suspect, charged on two separate counts of false pretenses, was identified by police as William Jordan, 26. of 7438 Landover Rd., Landover. Police said Jordan recently was released from prison on a grand larceny conviction and now is being held for parole violation.
Police said they are investigating 17 additional complaints by residents that they were victimized in a similar discount TV scheme involving cumulative cash losses of almost $2,000.
The scheme worked this way, according to Fourth District Det. James O. Anderson:
A man identifying himself as a "relative" of a resident in the neighborhood would engage pedestrians on the street in conversation and obtain names of other residents. He then would call those residents, representing himself as a Sears-Roebuck & Co. salesman, and offer them television sets at greatly discounted prices if they furnished him cash in advance.
Once a resident agree, the man went to the resident's home, collected the cash -- in one case as much as $195 -- and left, never to return.
On Feb. 23, according to Det. Anderson, Henry Kemper of 411 Peabody St. NW received a telephone offer for a discounted TV set. Kemper's daughter, Karen, aware of the neighborhood alert, notified police. Det. Anderson came immediately to the house, gave Kemper $75 in marked money, then hid in an adjacent room.
Minutes later, anderson said, Jordan arrived. No money had changed hands when he was arrested, but police reported that they found slips of paper in Jordan's pockets that mentioned names of some real or potential victims of the scheme.
Jordan also was charged with false pretenses in a similar case in which Margie Smith, of 202 Guackenbos St. NW, allegedly gave Jordan $195 on Feb. 22 for a 19-inch Zenith color TV that never was delivered, police said.