ROCKFORD - Police are warning
residents of an increase in panhandling on
anything new to
"It's not generally a deterrent to those people," said Lt. Patrick Hoey of the Field Services Division. "Even arresting some of these people is not a deterrent."
Hoey says many of
these new reports of soliciting are occurring as
"That causes a life safety issue," said Hoey, regarding panhandling in the street. He mentions that's legal for people with permits, doing fundraisers, but not for begging.
Reported or not,
police say the majority of the city's panhandling still occurs downtown. Jerry Kortman, co-owner of JR Kortman Design
"They see the activity and they feel that there's more opportunity to get money," said Kortman.
Kortman's nervous those people who might be stepping into his shop for the first time might be turned off by those panhandling.
"When they're approached by panhandler they automatically think, I'm not safe down here and do I want to come back?"
Police say there are many sob stories that beggars are giving people, and many of them are just con-stories. Hoey says many of the people soliciting money are just using it to feed a drug or alcohol addiction. The best way to get rid of panhandlers is to ignore them and help them by directing them to actual charity services that can help those who actually need help get back on their feet.
"The only reason these panhandlers remain is because it's good for business, because they're getting people to give them money," said Hoey.
"If there was no one giving them money they wouldn't hang out around that location."
Rockford PD is reminding people that panhandling for the most part is illegal, especially aggressive panhandling. They say giving money will only encourage the habit, and the best thing is to walk away or walk with a "buddy" because they say panhandlers tend to avoid groups.