Martinsville police cracking down on panhandlers

Panhandeling tends to increase during the summer

MARTINSVILLE – Residents who witness panhandling or who have any information about panhandling are encouraged to call the police department so that officers can try to help the panhandlers.

With the nicer weather and the increased hours of daylight that summer brings, panhandlers are likely to be out along busy streets more frequently.

While those considering panhandling may think there's no harm in it, panhandling is illegal in Martinsville.

"It is a misdemeanor crime. However, there are also additional charges that can be placed depending on the nature of it. For instance, if someone is perpetrating a fraud to obtain money, then that can be obtaining money by false pretenses, which is a violation of state code," said Martinsville Police Capt. Robert Fincher.

The police department reminds citizens to report panhandling so that the panhandlers can get the help they need.

"We have connections with some very generous organizations in this community that will help individuals that need help," Fincher said.

Martinsville resident Emily Redd is glad to see the police department making an effort to both cut down on panhandling and get panhandlers help.

"Way things are now, you don't want people running up at your vehicle...It's good that they have a place where people can sleep and go when it's cold and different things," said Redd.

She's also pleased to hear the police department reminding people about panhandling because she believes panhandlers are a hazard for drivers.

"I would think so; running out and stopping people for money," said Redd.

According to the police department, a couple of people have been arrested for fraudulently panhandling and since then panhandling calls have decreased, but the department still gets one or two calls a week.

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