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Action News confronts panhandling family about breaking the law

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Updated: 12/11/2013 11:47 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- You called in with complaints about panhandlers and within minutes Action News showed up.
Camera rolling and microphone in hand, we asked them if they knew they were breaking the law.

"I don't understand, no speak English," said one woman.

Action News' Alyana Gomez had the following exchange with one of the men who admitted to panhandling to get gas money.
Alyana Gomez: "Do one of you guys speak English?"
Man: "No ma'am, no American."
Gomez: "Do you speak enough English to ask for money out here?"
Man: "Maybe ma'am, sometimes. We need a job you know. We don't have a job."
Gomez: "But you know it's against the law to be out here soliciting for money?"
Man: "OK ma'am, I'm sorry." Gomez: "You have the kids out here all day?"
Man: "I don't speak English too much, I'm sorry."
Gomez: "You speak perfect English, it sounds like."
Witnesses nearby snapped a photo of the man begging for money minutes before Action News confronted them. We spoke with the property manager of the strip mall on 103rd Street on the Westside. He said the panhandling problem is out of control.

"We run the same ones off all the time, then if you call the police they end up leaving," said property manager Jeff Jacobs.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office recently created a special task force to crackdown on panhandling.

As of October, investigators arrested 17 people. Alina Antonescu was one of them. She's accused of using her kids to solicit money.

The guy we saw on Wednesday hasn't been caught by police yet. Soliciting is a misdemeanor and the charge only warrants one day of jail time.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

danielle0923 - 2/11/2014 10:49 AM
0 Votes
The same family has made their way up to Warner Robins, GA and Macon, GA. Our local meteorologist felt bad for them and posted on Facebook for anyone to help if they could. We let him know we had seen him in a town south of where he had and that we believed them to be con artist. Luckily he was able to find your article and is now sharing with all of his local followers to spread the word so they can no longer scam anyone here out of our hard earned money. Kudos on exposing them!!!

SpearsII - 12/16/2013 5:07 PM
0 Votes
I think the issue of panhandling is a very difficult problem for civil leaders. I really feel for cities trying to address this issue. As an aspiring economist, I recently conducted a field experiment to satisfy my own curiosity on just how much money panhandlers can make. I went undercover and spent 80 hours panhandling at an exit ramp. My average hourly wage was considerably north of minimum wage ($8.90 an hour). I also collected interesting data on the people who donated. I wrote about my experiences in a book called Exit Ramp: A Short Case Study of the Profitability of Panhandling. I think any city dealing with this problem needs to acknowledge that there are both those who panhandle because of an inability to get steady employment (mental health issues), and those who panhandle because it is possible to earn good money doing it. Figuring out how to help the one and discourage the other is no easy task.

floridakrakker - 12/12/2013 1:45 PM
0 Votes
A number of years ago (jeez, I'll bet 20 years ago now), one of the beggars that used to hang out at a freeway exit ramp was tried and convicted of murder. This guy said, when he was interviewed months before, that he made up to 800-1000 a day. then months later, some other beggar got wind of his lucrative corner and tried to muscle in on this corner - he was killed by the one that made all the money.

Pablo - 12/12/2013 11:14 AM
1 Vote
I'd rather be accosted by beggars than rapists and robbers. Go find some real lawbreakers and confront THEM about lawbreaking. Cowards

Pablo - 12/12/2013 11:11 AM
1 Vote
Asking people you don't know for money is a crime? Did anyone at action news ever apply for a loan or a grant? Shame on you! SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!

maleana1 - 12/12/2013 1:53 AM
0 Votes
Panhandlers this is a full time job for some .Myself and my family had to stay in a motel for 8 weeks last year while our home was under construction ,we stayed at the Roadway on US17 .In that 8 weeks i met people with families living there full time , who collected welfare they would send their kids to school and then dress dirty and go and panhandle all day for drug money and drinking money ,not to get a real home or real help.I asked some of them why do you not want better for yourself and your children look for real jobs ,they answered,Why I can go to churches to pay for our room to live in , I get several hundred dollars in food stamps every mouth, I can panhandle up to 300.00 to 400.00 in a day life is good we can do our drugs drink and our bills get paid and no job we get will pay as much and a job on the books we would loose all our welfare no way were happy doing what we do hustling everyday .It is sad these children were not as happy as the parents said they were . They were being exposed to everything drugs scamming prostitution ect.It was the worst 8 weeks ever i hated staying there those kind of people teach each other how to scam the system an people who do care i\. That experience has caused me not to give to anyone panhandling again so I guess I did learn from it . Maleana Kilcrease

Papakilo - 12/12/2013 1:23 AM
0 Votes
Panhandling IS out of control in Jacksonville. If you watch them for the day, they appear to make more than I do in a week. They need to be off the streets. If they are not legal, jail should be the first stop on leaving this country. Many men can't get jobs because many illegals work for under the table pay. Our high school graduates and college students have difficulty finding "entrance level" jobs because non-citizens and illegal aliens are competing and getting the jobs. Raising the "minimum Wage" does nothing to help entrance level youth gain experience. All it does is cause a "domino effect" with ALL wages, costs, and the minimum wage earner is right back where he started. Minimum wage IS NOT MEANT TO BE A LIVING WAGE. It is meant for entrance level unskilled individuals to gain work skills and knowledge so they can get a better job. Panhandlers just undermine everyone, including the charitable person, who believes he is helping someone. Wake up, its a scam. They know more about 'using the system' than you would even guess.

Phylburral - 12/12/2013 12:27 AM
1 Vote
I think it is a shame that police are arresting people asking for money when other crimes go unsolved! I have been homeless with 3 kids before and it is not easy, You get a job but in order to get a house or apartment, you must have application fee, first and last months rent, security deposit and pass a credit check. Even working minimum wage it is hard to save that much money. It is Just by the Grace of God that is not you out there! You could lose everything in the blink of an eye. Pray for these people , give them a helping hand, but do not prosecute for needing help!

Fred Thompson - 12/12/2013 12:23 AM
0 Votes
I tell them to FO!!

Terri75 - 12/12/2013 12:16 AM
0 Votes
Panhandlers are pests and they know what they are doing some refuse real food, change or to go into a restaurant to get a real meal yet they are starving blah blah blah. I hate ignoring them but jerks like this give them all a bad name...
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