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Panhandling Abounds in Strongsville, But is it Legal?

Police are called several times a week about people begging for money

 

Seen a panhandler in Strongsville lately?

Plenty of people have. In just the last couple weeks:

• A man in his 40s was at the Shell station on Royalton Road, stopping cars as they passed to ask for money -- he said his car broke down on I-71.

• A guy in a pickup was asking BP customers for cash. He told police his ATM card was declined; he said his brother was walking to Brunswick to get gas money.

• A woman stood near Giant Eagle holding a sign saying she was unemployed and had a newborn baby. 

• A woman carrying a baby walked around the parking lot at Target, begging for money.

• A couple with a baby held up a sign asking for help at Walmart.

• A man went to the Strongsville United Methodist Church soliciting money for gas.

Strongsville has no specific law regarding begging, but Detective Lt. John Janowski said panhandlers can be arrested for soliciting without a permit.

"Most of the time, that's what they're doing," Janowski said.

Police don't automatically cite people looking for a quick handout. If someone has an emergency and needs a few bucks, officers will try to help -- not make the problem worse.

"We try to take everything into account," Janowski said. "Is this their job -- are they doing it for a living? Or is it a run-out-of-gas situation?"

There are professional panhandlers out there, though.

"When they bond themselves out with a credit card, you wonder how down on their luck they really are," Janowski said.

In other areas, panhandling has become a controversial issue. In Fairlawn-Bath area, there were so many people begging for money along the roadways that fights broke out among people claiming a corner.

Fairlawn earlier this year passed legislation requiring panhandlers to register with the city before hitting the streets.

Janowski said that while the recession may have sent more people into the streets to beg for money, panhandling is nothing new.

"We've always had them," he said.

Ralph October 09, 2012 at 02:14 PM
What's the typical profile of a non-legit panhandler? Can I run a red light if one comes up to my car while waiting? How can I be sure that a cash donation will not be spent on liquor or drugs? Can I write on my car that I'm a Mother of Two, Maintain a House and Work Part Time? Can I tell them that next time instead of voting for HOPE & CHANGE they should vote for REALITY?
Richard October 10, 2012 at 11:57 AM
When I pulled into a rest stop in NC, a young man approached me and asked for gas money. I started asking his name, and where he was from. He gave answers that seemed legit. I then asked his address, again he answered. I then pulled a $20 out of my money clip and told him that if he could show me a driver's license that matched the address he had just given me, the $20 was his. He declined and went back to his car. I was friendly and sincere, but I found out in a matter of seconds he was NOT legit.

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