Archive for Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lawrence police advise residents to ignore panhandlers

May 15, 2011


What is aggressive panhandling?

Prohibited under the city’s aggressive panhandling ordinance:

• Blocking the entrance to someone’s vehicle or a building.

• Requesting money after someone has already declined.

• Making threatening gestures or comments.

• Asking for money at a bus stop or on a city bus, at a vehicle stopped in traffic, or within 20 feet of an ATM or bank.

• On private property without consent of the owner.

Colleen Sims says the story is common.

The Lawrence resident gets approached by a woman in the parking lot of a local store. The woman says she’s a victim of domestic violence and asks for money for a bus ticket or gas.

Sims, who’s encountered this several times recently, declines. She’s seen one of the women drive off in a newer car, and she said she’s offended by someone using domestic violence as a pretense for soliciting money.

“It’s more like scamming people,” she said.

Such behavior is illegal under a city ordinance — enacted in July 2006 — outlawing “aggressive panhandling,” because it’s being done on private property, said Jerry Little, Lawrence city prosecutor.

Panhandling in public areas, such as on sidewalks downtown, is legal as long as panhandlers avoid prohibited behavior such as panhandling within 20 feet of an ATM, blocking someone’s path, or using verbal or physical threats.

Rarely do such cases lead to prosecution, and Lawrence Municipal Court hasn’t seen any cases in the past six months, Little said. Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Mike Bodkin, assistant manager at Kohl’s, 3240 Iowa, said the store occasionally gets complaints from customers with stories similar to Sims’. Annoying potential shoppers, panhandling is bad for business, Bodkin said, and his store will send out security when panhandling is reported.

Lawrence Police Sgt. Matt Sarna said police categorize calls about aggressive panhandling as “nuisance calls,” but they don’t have a specific designation for aggressive panhandling. In 2010, Lawrence police handled 476 nuisance calls, which usually spike in the summer months, Sarna said.

Sarna advises people approached by panhandlers on private property to “ignore them, walk away and call the police.”


goodcountrypeople 7 years ago

Lawrence is chock full of aggressive solicitors, and the scariest ones are those ignorant to think a complete stranger would want anything to do them, let alone trust them enough to welcome them into their lives. Bad people readers! Anyone half aware realizes that some people do not want and should not have to deal with backwoods strangers getting overly personal on the public streets.Predatory rubes!

muttonchops 7 years ago

Yea, the world would be a great place if everyone lived by that rule. I think I'll take your wife, she's prettier than mine.

jafs 7 years ago

Ah - an old-fashioned guy who thinks he "owns" his wife.

booyalab 7 years ago

You can be generous without being stupid. I think the best way is to offer to directly buy the item they need money for. (gas, food, etc) That separates the truly needy from the scam artists.

fu7il3 7 years ago

Jesus died a slow death nailed to wooden beams. I think I'll just keep my change. We aren't all the son of God.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years ago

I've been told that panhandling is a rather high paying job if you have the requisite skills.

But, you do need to be wearing an appropriate wardrobe.

Scott Drummond 7 years ago

Do you mean the oil industry and war/empire contractors

beatrice 7 years ago

Kansas is on the government panhandler dole, since it takes in more federal funds than it pays out. Why are so many "red" states in support of this kind of socialism? How can you stand to live in such a place that feeds off the hard work of real Americans? Perhaps we could balance the defecit if "blue" states weren't having to carry so many "red" states.

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

"Gimme $5 and I will buy something to eat" (Shame on you)

"Gimme $5,000,000" of public funds and I will create a buncha of jobs" (shame on me)

Scott Drummond 7 years ago

Slight improvement: "Gimme $5,000,000 and launder your money through the corporate media, get elected to political office and eliminate your taxes by claiming that you'll create jobs for the rubes."

How many here remember when elected office was a position of respect and trust, not a perch from which to whore for the rich and powerful?

Who here remembers feeling pride in the society our collective efforts had produced?

Who here remembers when the majority of the public were not such suckers for carny barkers?

How sad that there are generations who have never experienced such things.

Who changed it all? How? And what are we going to do about it?

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

not a perch from which to whore for the rich and powerful? pride in the society our collective efforts had produced the public were not such suckers for carny barkers ++++ What you are describing is Utopian America. Seriously, has it ever, really been that way? Ever?

Scott Drummond 7 years ago

Yes. It was not a utopia, but it was as I described for a majority of citizens.

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

Well, considering that women and blacks weren;t allowed to vote until the last century or so, and Asians and Indians weren't even citizens until the 1900's--which majority?

While the key word may be "citizens". the myth in your statement is "majority".

Gary Anderson 7 years ago

wow...such compassion here this morning...when someone asks me for money, I ask them what they need. If they need money for gas, I offer them the gas. If they need money for food, I offer them the food. I never hand over cash. So far, not one of these panhandlers have taken me up on my offers of gas or food. A couple months ago we heard there was a lady with 3 kids living in the walmart parking lot. We checked it out and it was true. After putting her up in a nice hotel, we put her and her family on a bus to her destination in Minnesota. It's not hard to figure out who needs help and who doesn't. Of course, just because these panhandlers didn't really want the gas or the food...didn't mean they didn't need other types of help.

jafs 7 years ago

That was a lovely thing to do for that family!

easyliving 7 years ago

I'm sure this family was grateful for your kindness.

I took a similar approach recently with a gentleman in Topeka that needed gas (so he said) I offered a one gallon container of gas that I had in my truck. Asked where his car was and offered to put it in the car so I could get my can back. After he said "no thanks" I realized he just wanted an empty can so he could use it as a prop to get cash for "gas".

Don't fall for the empty can bit. I have purchased food on several occasions- but will never give cash.

pizzapete 7 years ago

What if all they're asking for are tax breaks and use of public parking spaces for their business?

akt2 7 years ago

I encountered one of the panhandlers a couple months ago. It was in the Walgreen's parking lot at 6th and Kasold. I was still in my car. She pulled up next to me and gave me the domestic violence story. She had a couple of kids in the backseat. I told her no that there were agencies in Lawrence that could help her. I offered to get some phone numbers for her. She declined. At that point she left the parking lot. I've since heard the same scenerio on the scanner a couple of times. Same vehicle description and same story. Based on this it is safe to say that this person doesn't need immediant assistance. She may already be receiving public assistance at some level. This is an easy way to to make extra cash.

pizzapete 7 years ago

I had the same thing happen at a quick shop, I felt bad for the kids and gave her what little money I had.

Fruity22 7 years ago

You recall if the car was a chevy malibu? I've encountered her before. If I was thinking I would have told her to sell her car seeing how it was easily worth more than the little pickup I was driving at the time. I told her I didn't have any cash and she was out of there almost before I could finish my sentence. On to the next victim.

Cimmy Redmond 7 years ago

What about the woman with the baby who hangs out on Mass? Anyone know if she's legit?

John Hamm 7 years ago

I've seen her for a couple of years - if it's the same one I'm thinking of. What do you think?

Deb Engstrom 7 years ago

She's been around awhile. That seems to be a good source of income for her. If she wants something extra she heads down to Mass street

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

If its the heavier one that I am thinking of--she's been homeless since 2000. Thats her fifth baby or so,

whatadrag 7 years ago

The one that was with her baby at Bourgeois Pig all the time late at night?

muttonchops 7 years ago

A fool and his money are soon parted. Give her your money and prove it.

Scott Morgan 7 years ago

heheheeheehhe good one mutton. Panhandling is indeed a high paying job in the right area. Lawrence is the right area. One must ask with literally hundreds of tax paid full time helpers of the homeless in Lawrence why somebody is parked begging for money around the vicinity of 30 th Street.

Eugehne Normandin 7 years ago

Stay away from panhandlers on private property. panhandlehers on public property are are o.k.

Louis White 7 years ago

Dillons, 3000 W 6Th ST. "I just got off the bus, and the guy I was supposed to meet has been deported, and I can't get into the shelter because it's past 8:30. Can you tell me how to get to the shether and 8th and Vermont and can you give me a little cash for something to eat?" She was walking the wrong direction from the bus stop, and the last bus had stopped 13 hours previous. She was faking I'm sure but was shaken, crying and lame in one leg. She did a good enough acting job to earn five bucks.

Katherine Greene 7 years ago

A woman with the same story approached me several months ago at the same Dillons. I took her inside and bought her food. I wondered if her story was true, but decided it didn't really matter. If you are hungry and ask me for food, I'll give you food. I figure hunger is hunger, no matter what the story that is being told.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 7 years ago

We stop assuming things about people. Such as "...half the homeless in Lawrence are convicted felons." Where'd you pull this number from?

kuguardgrl13 7 years ago

I've never been approached by panhandlers anywhere other than Mass. I don't give out money, but I enjoy the musicians and comedians. A friend of mine likes to juggle occasionally to help with rent. I'm sympathetic towards the struggling artists, but I generally ignore the bums asking for handouts.

gphawk89 7 years ago

I know a guy who basically put himself through college by playing music in a subway station. Granted, he was a very talented musician, so was well "paid". He's now a MD. The musicians always get a buck if they're playing something I like.

notanota 7 years ago

Buskers are earning money. Panhandlers are not.

BlackVelvet 7 years ago

Hey panhandlers (bums)...I've got a TASER with your name on it!

boothillbilly 7 years ago

Lawrence has a lot of panhandlers and a lot of roads in need of repair. Work fixing the road and get a free meal? Either that, or chain gangs. Either way, roads here are awful, and so are the panhandlers. Fix both problems I say.

Scott Newell 7 years ago

I was approached late at night at Hy-Vee on 6th by the same North Dakota story woman. Shelter was closed, walked all the way here, needs something to eat until they open, blah blah. I told her no, get into my car and Hunger Strike by Temple of the Dog is playing. I think to myself this must be a sign and turn around to give her some money only to get there just in time to watch her get into a newer model car with the gentleman who obviously dropped her off there! It's too bad people like this ruin it for the people who actually need help.

Soapbox 7 years ago

Anyone on this cloud have spare change?

wmathews 7 years ago

Hi smitty, I sent you a PM about why the AP story didn't end up online. The story landed on the wire long after both our web producer and I had left on Friday. The copy desk likely didn't think to post the story because our web producer usually handles AP stories. It was an honest mistake.

In the future, we'll probably post AP stories about this incident (since we have posted one in the past). Though keep in mind this story is happening well outside our coverage area, so coverage will likely be contained to whatever the AP decides to publish.

Whitney Mathews Assistant Community Editor for Online

beatrice 7 years ago

Who said you get to leave on Friday? This is a 24/7 job. The interwebs aren't going to police themselves you know.

greenworld 7 years ago

Panhandling is not illegal but panhandling on private property is. Yeah it is true to ignore the people holding the signs or begging and eventully they will go away due to lack of funds. It just makes me wonder how many people feel sorry for them and throw change or bills their way. As long as anybody throws a bone their way they will stick around forever so STOP GIVING THEM MONEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sean Livingstone 7 years ago

greenworld, it's anyone's right to give or panhandle, as long as they don't break the laws. Like prostitution, you can never stop people from giving or taking. 1 second of a smile and a "no" isn't that difficult, and you have good examples to show your children what not to do in the future. Be a little tolerant... why that many !!!...:) (I don't give to panhandlers by the way, but I tolerated their presence, just like I tolerated the nonsense of oil companies making tonnes of profits and yet get tax subsidies...)

gphawk89 7 years ago

I actually fell for the bus ticket scam the first time I heard it. Sounded plausible so I gave away a couple bucks. Then a month later a different person approached me with the same story. Same story, different person each time, three or four more times in the past six months. They really need to coordinate a bit and come up with some new angles. Maybe rotate their stories every couple of months.

somedude20 7 years ago

There was a lady hanging out at Dillons on Mass Friday. She asked for change (must be a democrate) so I had some and gave it to her. When I came out of the store, Ms. Lady was at the window of a car giving money to a dude. Was it drugs? Who knows but it did look that way.

oldbaldguy 7 years ago

Deportation to Topeka is sounding better and better.

introspector 7 years ago

nobody really needed to tell me to ignore those smelly bums / crack fiends down there mooching change. "support the arts!" they say... smoking crack cocaine is not an art.

topeka52 7 years ago

Oldbaldguy, Fair enough, you deport your pah-handlers to Topeka, we will send Lawrence our criminals!!!

goodcountrypeople 7 years ago

Panhandlers are emissaries from God! I personally have never met a panhandler, even on the West Coast, who is half as offensive, scary, and aggressive as the native mountain-bred yahoos around Lawrence who approach complete strangers with no hesitation that a complete stranger will not view someone of their obvious ignorance level as God's generous gift of aid and assistance. Ha, thanks, but no thanks, Crackers! Apparently, you think you have the right to grab and molest others, and if they protest, revenge and a mad attack dog mentality are your bywords. Thanks to the local corrupt conflict-of-interest politics, the world is your oyster too.

true_patriot 7 years ago

Huh? "Native, mountain-bred yahoos around Lawrence" ? What mountains? What are you even talking about? Are you even from around here?

Speaking of rubes, visit a larger city someday and allow yourself to walk around on the street for a while. Panhandling is just a fact of life in densely populated areas, as I'm sure it as been since Biblical times and before. Why do you make them out to be scary crazy rubes? It is you who seems naive and over-reactive. There's nothing wrong with ignoring a panhandler. Or just do as I do - look them in the eye and say "not today" and keep moving. Once in a while I'll actually give a guy food or a freebie card from a local restaurant or coffee shop. Most of the time I just say no without any malice - just someone who works for a living telling someone you're not donating to the cause right then. It's not that big a deal; just say no.

You never know what their real situation is - they could just be strung out looking for their next drink or hit, could be lazy and unwilling to work, or they could seriously be suffering from physical or mental conditions and be victims of all the cutting we've done to the social safety net to help people like that get better and hold down jobs. Maybe they got sick at the wrong time without health insurance and were victims of the new bankruptcy laws, which let corporations wriggle out of their debts but make it much harder now for American citizens to wriggle out of theirs, even though the majority of bankruptcies now are from out of control health care costs and home foreclosures.

If there's any justice in the world, someday you will lose your home and land and have debt you can't pay and will end up running way from it all and begging in the streets so folks that don't know any better can sit around and demonize you and laugh about it. All way looking the other way as corporate panhandlers bilk taxpayers out of billions and billions of dollars every year, completely dwarfing the chump change we spend to insure the least among us are treated the way our founding fathers intended for them to be as epitomized in the Declaration of Independence.

mom_of_three 7 years ago

you had me until the founding fathers and the declaration.. the white guys with property who only thought white guys with property could vote. they were a brave and heroic bunch, but they had some issues...

true_patriot 7 years ago

They were pragmatists and actually debated the issue of slaves and landowners. They did what they could and hoped (and even predicted in some cases) that the issues they couldn't solve at the time would be solved by later generations.

"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" - we learn this phrase as children and I think take it for granted by the time we get caught up in all the ideological posturing of adults. Most of the founders and early patriots had varying but definite ideas about minimum levels of suffering and equal opportunity for everyone, not just those at the top.

They were trying to prevent aristocracy, as they had seen first hand the evils of it. Jefferson even believed every generation should start over with the same minimum holdings. Paine wrote an essay where he articulated something uncannily like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

The winner of the today's run-on sentence derby has been identified.

Cimmy Redmond 7 years ago

The husband and I were in Vermont Street BBQ a few years ago. There was a guy with a dog panhandling outside. After someone gave him some money, he came inside, walked up to the bar, and asked the difference between the different tequilas.

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