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Aggressive Panhandling at Town & Country

Original post made by Hmmm, East Palo Alto, on May 17, 2011

Recently, I was accosted by an aggressive panhandler holding a sleeping child while I was at Town & Country. I'm usually a soft touch, but instinct made me wary of her. She was actually going inside of businesses, thrusting her cardboard sign in people's faces and clearly, using her child for sympathy. I know that with The Opportunity Center next door, it's easy to blame their clients for this sort of thing. Honestly, I thought she was as gypsy given her modus operandi. European friends of mine have shared stories of gypsy beggars and her behavior was very similar. Anyone have similar experiences recently?

Comments (13)

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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Probably going to see a lot more of this in coming years.

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Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on May 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm

Might be the same folks who were out in front of the post offices a few weeks ago. Cardboard signs and kids in strollers.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 17, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Part of why I am interested in this, moreso than w/other panhandlers, is because I think this woman may have been what we call a gypsy. She had an accent, and had the features and coloring of a European gypsy.
qq, would you say the people you saw at the post office looked similar to this description?

Given these difficult times, it is really common to see panhandlers. A friend of mine has had 2 interactions recently with gypsy-looking panhandlers in the Fremont area. I am interested in knowing more about this - is the bay area getting an influx or gypsies or Romanies, moreso than what we've had in the past? I make the distinction between these groups, btw. Romany is the ethnic group, gypsy is a looser term that is also descriptive of behavior and often applied to non-Rom with gypsy-like behavior.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

From the description, this is unlikely to be a local down on her luck!

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Posted by Pathetic
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2011 at 11:55 am

Before you castigate this poor woman bear in mind she may be under the control of a Mafia type gang who force her to beg. This sort of behavior rarely occurs in isolation.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

There seem to be some good options for those w/kids during hard times, no? Even w/budget cuts, the shelters, etc., have always made families & moms w/kids a focus. I've had homeless coworkers who, due to having families, received good help to get back on their feet - at least in San Mateo county.

Pretty judgemental of me, but if I had small children & was in dire straits, I wouldn't put them at risk vis a vis me panhandling w/them. The cops can get involved as can CPS. This is why I thought the kids were a ploy & the panhandling in part at least, a con.

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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm

What would you expect the police to do? Town and Country could ask her to leave and then if she didnt she could be cited for trespassing but T&C has to complain first. I have seen police talking to her. Obviously her child isnt sick or exibiting any injuries, so nothing to be done there.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

PAPD can call in CPS any time when a parent or custodian gets into any type of trouble w/the law, whether that trouble is real or an impetus into checking into the child's welfare. Yeah, I'm well aware of T&C needing to call the cops - but if you've seen the cops talking to her, was that by accident?

You've seen the cops talking to her? Really? Where? If at T&C this means she's there frequently begging?

Pathetic - please, tell us about the mafia-like gangs to which you refer. Are they common in this area? Do they run beggars like other mobsters run drug dealers & prostitutes? Is it a form of human trafficking?

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Posted by Local
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Apparently, the begging-gypsy-holding-child scheme has gained a foothold in the bay area:

Web Link

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Posted by MylyP
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Yes, they are here and the numbers are growing. I've had encounters in San Mateo and Belmont. When I asked where they were from, they told me Romania and Moldova. They had their children with them ages from 5 to infant. The children stayed for hours outside (I made several trips to the grocery store that day) and I felt sorry for them. But I have traveled extensively in Europe and am wary of the Gypsy scams, so I did not give them any money.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2014 at 3:53 pm

This is also an old article from 2011 -- 3 years ago. I thought this was a NEWSpaper.

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Posted by Seen it all before
a resident of Mayfield
on Mar 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Oh dear, have they arrived here?

I grew up in a major European city where gypsies have been for decades if not longer, maybe centuries, who knows. They are a real curse. The mother and child begging scheme is not the worst of it either.

Next thing you know, we'll be hit with the groups of young kids operating as pick-pockets. Unfortunately, you have to be very careful around those people. The ones doing the begging and stealing are indeed victims themselves. However, they are a scourge.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2014 at 1:16 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

Neighbor - this isn't an article. I wrote the original post to warn others. I'm not sure what your point is in your post. However, what I wrote was news - it still is news because it's still happening - and others need to know about it.

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