A Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman was arrested and charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person, theft by deception, harassment through electronic communications, and violation of the Transient Merchant Act in Canton, Ill.

Thomas Schierer, 37, of East Peoria, obtained money and a vacuum cleaner from a Canton couple in exchange for a Kirby vacuum cleaner he falsely represented to be "new."

Schierer appeared in court Feb. 10, and bond was set at $25,000. He posted bond. His next court date is at 2 p.m. March 24 for a preliminary hearing.

Following an investigation by the Canton Police Department, Assistant State's Attorney William Loeffel obtained a warrant for violation of the Transient Merchant Act, a class B misdemeanor. The information alleges Schierer conducted business as a transient merchant, selling Kirby "vacuum cleaners and cleaning services ... without first obtaining a license from the City of Canton."

On Feb. 5, felony charges were filed alleging financial exploitation of an elderly person, a class 3 felony; and theft by deception, also a class 3 felony. In addition, a charge was filed of harassment through electronic communications, a class B misdemeanor.

Loeffel also wrote the Consumer Fraud Division of the Illinois Attorney General's Office on Dec. 19, requesting that "Schierer's Sweeper's" and "Carpet Cleaning for Seniors" be enjoined from advertising, soliciting or doing business with senior citizens in Fulton County. The Attorney General's Office is currently investigating alleged similar conduct on the part of Schierer in Woodford County and the Peoria area.

The investigation is being conducted in conjunction with state and local agencies in Fulton, Woodford, Tazewell and Peoria counties, with assistance from Senior Strength/Center for Prevention of Abuse in Peoria.

Fulton County incidents in Ipava, Dunfermline and Lewistown, as well as Canton are currently being reviewed. Loeffel cautions local residents not to do business with transient merchants who do not have a license to sell door to door.