The Fayetteville Police Department has received several reports of “panhandling” recently, and some of those cases have been linked to organized criminals who prey on vulnerable people and good-hearted citizens.
Anyone who observes panhandling is asked to alert law enforcement immediately by dialing 911.
One common panhandling scenario involves a man driving a family vehicle to a shopping center or busy roadway intersection and supervising a woman and children, who may be holding a handmade sign saying they need help buying food or clothes, paying the rent, and so on. After a while, the women and children are driven back to an out-of-town hotel where they live. Later that day, or the next day, they are driven to another location to repeat the activities.
These panhandling activities are often illegal. If they take place in shopping centers, panhandlers can be cited for Criminal Trespassing. If they take place along roadways, they can cause dangerous traffic situations. As well, panhandling may be an indicator that human trafficking is taking place.
In any case, the best response when people see panhandling take place is to call 911 so law enforcement officers may assess the situation and help any victims receive any assistance they may need.