Personal Security Tips While Encountering The Panhandler

(panhandler sign – fill in the blank)

We live in a potentially dangerous world in which opportunist panhandlers and criminals are prowling for a handout or for victims. This is particularly true on the public streets of many population-dense cities or suburbs — some worse than others.

The ‘panhandling’ has been getting much worse in many places and has become much more aggressive – particularly in regions that are known for their political philosophies of favorable welfare handouts and benefits (e.g. sanctuary cities).

While there are those who have little regard for their own personal security as they expose themselves to interactions with the panhandler, there are others who might consider the following tips during their own encounter:

What is a panhandler? A panhandler is a type of beggar, often using aggressive tactics to separate you from your money. While certainly there are those in need (and there are plenty of ‘programs’ for them if they choose to help themselves), the fact is that they are in the streets where there is a flow of people to victimize.

Some panhandlers are completely harmless. There are others though (many of them) who are dangerously mentally ill and are out in the streets instead of in mental institutions (which have been closed down). Many or most of them lie when they make their cardboard signs or tell you their sob story. If you have any inkling of personal security or safety, then don’t let your pity get the best of you…


How To Avoid A Panhandler Confrontation

While walking, stay in a state of situational awareness. You may see them ahead and have the opportunity to choose another route of avoidance.

DO NOT have your face in your smart-phone while walking the streets.

If the panhandler asks you anything, (anything), DO NOT STOP if you’re already walking. Keep moving. Say nothing.

DO NOT ENGAGE. It does you no good whatsoever to say anything at all. It may only inspire more dialogue and possible confrontation. If they swear back at you – who cares…

If the panhandler (or anyone at all) asks you what time it is, DO NOT look at your cell phone or watch to check. Instead, move along, or give him your best guess if you must say anything. This instinct is difficult to break – but is very important if the person is a would-be criminal looking to ‘sucker punch’ when you look away (for example) or to ‘grab and run’.

If an apparent panhandler (or anyone at all) walks up to you and asks you for directions, DO NOT look away and point somewhere. Instead simply talk the person through it. I mention this because it is a potential tactic used by criminals to get you to look away for a moment – to then grab your wallet, purse, or worse.

If you are in an area with parasitic aggressive panhandler’s, DO NOT look at them – even if they’re across the street. This will immediately provoke an attempted engagement. This is particularly true of tourists in an area who are not used to dealing with them.

If you are in close proximity to a panhandler who has already engaged you, stay in a relaxed and ready position. That is, not directly facing him but balanced with the body at an angle to the panhandler or potential attacker. The hands should be near chest level, doing anything that does not appear aggressive (maybe clasping your hands together, etc.). DO NOT have your hands in your pockets. Keep your vision on their head and shoulders while being aware of his hands. Stay more than arms length away and don’t allow the person to crowd you. By not being crowded, the person will have to ‘announce’ their intention by stepping in on you – giving you a preemptive opportunity to defend.

Lets hear your additional tips or suggestions to deal with the panhandler…

For more article on situational awareness:
Situational Awareness


  1. VERY good advice here!

    There are also panhandlers who are set up along public roads. Honestly, they creep me out because if you are in ‘traffic’, they have the freedom of being on foot and have the ability to get much too close.

    Roadway panhandlers can be found on sidewalks, concrete islands, intersections, and along the ingress/egress lanes onto a highway/interstate. In times past, I have been in several situations with aggressive panhandlers (and those who wash your windshields without your permission). As Ken has said, do not engage them, do not get near them, do not allow them to enter into your personal perimeter. If in a vehicle, keep windows up and doors locked. In my opinion, the only “safe” vehicle is one that is locked as soon as you get inside. We only have trucks now and our County has outlawed panhandlers and hitchhiking on the major roadways. There are no panhandlers at the stores or shopping centers either, but I’m unsure who is enforcing this (property management or police). No doubt as our economy worsens, panhandling will increase regardless of laws. Many might appreciate a night in jail with 3 hots and a cot. lol

    1. Darling, it should scare anyone! I was with friends and street had pedestrians, motor vehicules and buses. We all witnessed this obvious kidnapping/hijack at traffic lightsby panhandlers but only one jumped while pushing driver to passenger seat and the others left in different directions.
      They all pretending they didnt see a thing and unfortunately bus driver too.i asked him call 911 and he was dumbfounded.
      Wy lady friend and I we made that call.
      Outcome? N.o.t.h.i.n.g.
      I was there visiting. I will never ever forget. And going back next week on business and take a guess what its about….

  2. Thanks for the Article. We have encountered the stop light and stop sign panhandlers for a number of years when we have to travel for medical appointments. Like advised, we know of it, keep the windows up…..and if necessary, will run that light or sign. We have been told that a large number of these people make their entire living moching off the goodness of others. Times have changed from the day we thought nothing of giving someone a coin or bill….you could be reallty hurt and robbed.

  3. I usually do a good job of keeping away from panhandlers & following the advice in this article, but a few months ago I was really taken off-guard.

    A guy about my age came up to me in a Lowe’s parking lot and said “Hey man! You remember me from high school? It’s me, Eric!” Even though I went to high school in a city far away, it threw me off because he did look familiar. He showed me his i.d. and I struggled to remember the name.

    He went on to say that I looked great and he remembered me. He remembered I was quiet and commented that I was on either the wrestling or football team (I did wrestle for a few semesters). He said I put on a little weight but that happens after we get in the ‘real world’ (I’m about 80 lbs. heavier than high school).

    The guy said he had just gotten out of prison and that he needed some food. I gave him a few bottles of water and he seemed a little less-than-appreciative.

    As I got into my vehicle and drove home it occurred to me that I let this guy get within a few feet of me, and on this particular day I wasn’t carrying concealed. I looked up the name in the yearbook and guess what…no such guy in 4 years of high school.

    It was a fairly elaborate & well-thought out scam. Have a story in mind involving some ‘history’ that can work for people in different age groups. Me? 40s, used to be athletic, not hard to tell that I tend to be quiet. I’m sure he had several stories. It still shakes me up that he was able to get me to lower my guard.

    Be careful out there…

  4. When we have to go into the large city that is an hour away from us, we dress down. Depending on the area, I have been known to dress to look as close to a street person as possible. We were headed to an event, but we had to walk through an unsavory street to get to it. I think the panhandlers hang out on this street because it is one of the few ways to get to this center. Anyway we came around the corner to enter this street and there were two guys about 100 feet away. One took a step in our direction, paused like he was sizing us up, then headed towards another couple across the street that were nicely dressed.

    1. peanut gallery: I got rid of my fake gold costume jewelry several years back when a lady told me she did as a friend of hers was also robbed of cash. If it looks real, ditch it, not worth getting mugged or hassled. Ladies, please do this now!
      Dressing down while running errands is good idea. also,
      Wal Mart is full of panhandlers some women, esp. in Fla. and near interstates and main roads. They say they ran out of gas and must to get to point B. I went back in the store and told someone to call police as he was harassing people in the parking lot. I shop early, and we have no reason to go out in the evening or later after dark. Even in smaller cities things are getting dicey.

  5. your “dont’ look” sort of what we have been saying around our house, in this and similar situations…

    “do not make eye contact”…

    that eye contact is powerful, somehow it does mean a LOT..

    (maybe it is that socialisation we go through)

    and that wrist watch / ask the time is an interesting one..

    neither my husband nor I wear a watch..
    there are a number of times we have been asked the time, and we give our best guess, or direct them to nearby store. All good right? no, a number of times I can recall they seemed upset with this, now I am thinking it is because they were trying to distract us, and it did not work.

  6. When I have to go “downtown”, I make sure I stop at McD’s and get a gift certificate book. I then hand out the certificate’s (good for a burger or a meal) to any panhandler that asks me for “change”. I’ve YET to have one thank me, OR, actually use it.

    If I am with my wife or the grand kids, I am FAR less “civil”, but I do remain civil, and if crowded by the panhandler/s, I will back them off forcefully.

    The worst one was when I was pumping gas in a downtown station. Panhandler came up and “demanded” I give him money. I told him that his “demand” met the legal requirements for strong-arm robbery(in our state it does) and that I had nothing worth him dying for. He immediately fled the area. Yes, I do have the means to back that up. The most disconcerting thing about that encounter, was that I had let down my guard (I was tired) and was NOT paying attention to my surroundings or to him. My situational awareness was IN the crapper on the way down. I was fortunate. We donate to charities, NOT to panhandlers,especially the hyper-aggressive ones. Their behavior is usually close to the border for “strong-arm robbery” in most states. I don’t feel guilty about it either.

  7. I’m a TOTAL “non-tolerant” person when it comes to Panhandlers, PERIOD, I believe we used to call them bums or scam artist. I’m a good 6’2″ at 260#s. I also carry and have no problem pulling my jacket back for a “look see”. I have run into a couple of “forceful Bums” in a parking lot or walking to my truck. I simply say “no” and keep going, if they pursue I make it quite clear they should leave. If not, It’s amazing what happens at times when you simply go off your nut yelling and screaming like a crazy SOB, attracting attention and then just drop to the ground grabbing your chest like your having a heart attack.

    Do NOT engage a Bum in a conversation, that only gives time for their “buddies” to gather making the situation worse for you.

    I do donate to some charities anonymously, I have no need for others to know what I choose to give, or to whom. It’s absolutely none of anyone’s business but mine.

    As a side note, if someone ask you “do you know what time it is”, the correct answer is “yes”. It works very well to actually answer the question and not give information not requested, especially when talking to a police officer or in court. By polite, but only answer the question asked.


    1. Honestly the way things are im not even polite unless the person looks like they have some class, so much human trash in our world,

  8. Panhandler/transient come up to me in a parking lot when I had my young child in the cart. Mama-bear faced the bum and snarled “BACK OFF!”

    He had been saying cute kid. Who gives a $hit about being polite to strangers who have the nerve to come up to you in a parking lot?

    Another time, I was at the bank and had just climbed back into my car after visiting the ATM. I always shut my door and lock it before I put my key in the ignition and that day it saved me. While looking down to put something away in my purse, some dude walked right up to my door and tried to open it. Broad daylight on the busiest street in town.

    We’ve seen panhandlers use kids as a way to get sympathy and to lower defenses. They know people will talk to a young mother holding her child asking for a few bucks to feed them. Keep an eye out, they are rarely alone.

  9. This is admittedly not a good tactic, but when I lived in the city a few years ago I would get panhandled virtually every day.

    It got to the point that if I knew, due to the confines of the sidewalk, I would have to deal with the person–before they would even speak a word, I would say very loudly & aggressively “TV shows on the radio are lazy!!!” or other complete nonsense.

    It would throw them off their game and nearly every time they would look very confused, say nothing, and walk away stammering.

    I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t get stabbed or shot. Who knows who you’re dealing with.

    1. Ninja

      I once had a conversation with someone who sailed quite a bit, far and wide, all by himself. I asked if he didn’t find it dangerous, especially as most (boats?) he would run into would have more than one on.

      He told me, the secret to staying safe/alive, (if they looked dodgy at all), was to immediately act/seem totally crazy. He would immediately act as though he was going to set their and his (boat) on fire or some such. He said in several yrs of sailing on his own, it had worked several times to keep him safe/alive.

  10. I had a bum telling me that I needed to give him some money while I was putting gas in my jeep. I told him that I was broke and to keep moving which got him good and angry. It was around 2AM with no one around except for two other guys that the bum was trying to wave over to where we were and I was not comfortable. After some thought I pulled my bic lighter out, light it and pointed the gas nozzle at him. That bum should be on the US Olympic track team as he was passing cars on the interstate when he RAN away. Good trick if anyone is harassing you at the gas pump!

    1. P.S. No bums were hurt in this story. I did not light the gas on fire.

  11. They will also use puppies as a way to get you to engage in conversation. Another point is some of them work in teams. I have seen a team where one is on a bicycle and the other one on foot. I have also seen teams where one is within 20 feet but seemingly uninvolved and uninterested but close enough to join in if there is a fight. Also watch out for the shoeshine scam. They can get pretty pushy and once they touch your shoes (with whatever they are using) they will demand payment.

  12. I dont do charity anymore.
    Have done it and been burned too many times, i take care of me and mine and all others can piss off,,,,,

  13. We live close to a small town and have very few bums begging for money but here lately in the Walmart parking lot its been young women giving you a slob story. I guess I should have reported them to the store manager I looked around and saw two guys setting in a car. IT LOOK LIKE THEY WERE TOGETHER. I was glad that I had my 357 mag on me. IT takes a sorry piece of crap to put women out to beg for them. The young people think the older generation is a easy target but that is not always the case every once in a while they will run into a old range bull. DO not ever let your guard down.

  14. Excellent advice! I will definitely make my wife read this… she has such a soft heart she falls for all of their sob stories.

    The best thing is to not make eye contact… that’s what they use as an opening.

    1. You are exactly right about those with a ‘soft’ heart. While I have nothing against those who are compassionate (in fact there are many real attributes to being compassionate), the fact is that it ‘can’ be dangerous in some circumstances. The key is practical situational awareness coupled with the knowledge that there are ‘bad’ people out there.

      By the way, I spent nearly 14 years in Cali, but I escaped several years ago ;)

    2. Cali, the longest 10 years of my life, got out in 1981, never looked back. I did enjoy the education of the beaches in the early 70s tho… HAHAHA

      1. Dude,
        I AM a “native” and lived there for more than 49 years. Not kidding. Left my native state, and while I MISS the geography and the scenery(what’s left after the arson fires) I don’t miss SacramentoWhorePoliticians, or the EntitlementBrigades(FSA) at all.
        Still have two siblings there, and I doubt they will ever leave. Even my 87 year old mother left the state a few months ago. She saw the light.
        Had a clown come up to us at a Jack-in-The Crack(Box) drive thru at Oh-dark thirty, he violated my Oh-dark-thirty-personal-perimeter-space(it expands after dark significantly-can’t help it). Demanded I/we give him funds “cause I’m hungry”, I told him what I would give him a projectile moving at 1300 feet per second BEFORE I would give him any funds, he left and I only saw elbows and a rectum.(Wife was hungry and it WAS a long road trip…)

  15. May usual response is I don’t carry any cash. Which seems to work since it rings true to a ton of people now a days. Walmart parking lots are where I encounter most of them.

    I had a close call many years ago at those do it yourself car washes. I was vacuuming out my truck and couldn’t hear much and was focusing on getting done before the timer ran out. When I turned around and there was a bum with 3 knives in his hand. Luckily they were sheathed. He wanted to know if I would buy one from him. Even unsheathed one. I sternly said no and stepped away worried about what he may do next. Luckily for me is he wasnt violent and simply walked away. He could have really messed me up before I even knew what happened.

    Never again. Head’s on a swivel.

    Adapt and Overcome.

  16. Saw them out regularly back in the late 80’s when I would go to NYC often and before Rudy Giuliani took office. I ignored them but it was a dirty city then. He cleaned up the city and made quite a difference. I haven’t seen one since then.

  17. I stopped carrying a purse over 20 years ago. I carry a credit card and my ID in my front Jeans pocket. I keep a little cash in my car for car wash, etc. But no big amount of cash, and everyone can see I have no cash when I am hurrying to the store with nothing but my car keys in my hand and nothing obvious in my pocket. It’s been decades since anyone asked me for a handout.

  18. A few years ago, here in Florida,before the panhandler ban, some panhandlers would approach your car for a handout, and if you refused , they would try to stab the driver with a hypo needle.
    Windows closed and doors locked was the rule.

  19. Went to the grocery store after work. I was putting groceries in the back of the truck. I observed a woman in an “electric wheelchair” going up to people and obviously begging. I loaded my groceries, tried to not look at her, got in my truck, locked my doors and turned on the ignition, when someone banged on the side of my truck. She had blocked me from leaving the parking space. I cracked my window and cursed her because I had almost run her over. She said, “I’m not beggin”, I said “Yes you are, now move”. She tried to continue her “sell” while blocking me. I told her that she was making me very nervous and I was calling 911. Also had my concealed in my lap. Can’t believe I was afraid of a woman in a wheelchair.

    1. Beach’n, that’s a new one, for sure…

      the more I think of it though….

      yes, she was in a wheelchair, but did she actually require the wheelchair, or was it a “prop”? mmm

  20. I was working on a forklift next to a dock in a very isolated place and one walked up to me and asked me for a cigarette. As I was smoking one, I looked at him and told him no and to get a job like I did and he can buy his own. Another time a helper for the vending machine guy asked me if I had a cigarette and I said no, I have cigars, and walked away. I was smoking a cigar too. For some reason, people are afraid to confront me, maybe because of my size or the look on my face. One time I took the family into a haunted house, pitch black, and they were in front of me and I could hear the actors scaring them and the girls screaming. When I got there all I heard was ” this way sir “. Guess I am scary even in the dark.

  21. I used to encounter these clowns when I worked in NYC…. I used to speak Czech to them. They thought I was a tourist, had no clue to what I was saying and went to try to grub money from someone else. Worked every time…

    1. Love It! Our son speaks five languages fluently, he does the same thing with the beggars. Screws with their heads something fearful. Sometimes, he will demand/ask money from THEM in French, Spanish, Italian or Arabic or Russian.
      Really screws with those under the influence. Good for a laugh.

  22. Ken, off topic sorry,
    but can you please post the link to your latest article on flashlights?


    1. If you click on “Search MSB” at the top of the page, you can type in “flashlights,” and it will take you to an article from last March. I’m sure Ken will post the link for you, but this may answer your question sooner.

  23. I can’t really give any advice on this subject. I used to live in Chicago and they have plenty of panhandlers. I don’t know what the deal is but MOST of the time I would walk right by them and they would ignore me. I’d stare right at them as I walked by and sometimes they would even avert their gaze. I don’t think I’m scary looking or anything like that, maybe I just look poor? Who knows? Well the few that didn’t ignore me and actually asked for something, I gladly gave them a little something if I had any money on me. Maybe I’m a panhandler enabler, or maybe I’m just making a deposit into my karma account.

    Once when I was younger I did a shameful thing. I was walking with a group of friends in Seattle and an aggressive panhandler walked up to us and said give me a dollar. I thought it was rude that he didn’t even bother to ask, the bums in Chicago at least still ask. Everyone else in the group just stood there, kind of amazed I guess. But I stepped up into the guys personal space with my hand out and said give ME a dollar. He did and we continued on our way.

    I don’t like to get preachy, but…
    Matthew 25:40 Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    1. There is a slim line between begging and stealing. Give me money implies a threat if you don’t. That’s stealing. IMHO

  24. Notice how many of the “nasty” encounters in the above stories occur AFTER DARK? As we used to say in the ambulance business: The Freaks Come Out at Night!

    Having relocated to a new state and new town with a new job, I have now been at same location for over 5 years now. I have noticed that some of my former “guests” within my Locked Facility (Prison and/or psych hospital) are some of the same folks who are holding the cardboard signs. (finally made parole eh Jerry?) in some cases, they are still wearing the same prison issue shoes (white canvas with velcro closures and orange soles) though the clothes are from god-knows- where.

    My wife used to give money to these people until the day I recognized a fella she was opening her purse for. I pointed out that this former mental patient was a serial rapist who had just got out on Parole and liked little boys with bruises on them on the sidewalk in San Jose, CA. I said it loud enough to embarass and to be heard by all the strangers around us. He left the scene quickly without any of my/our money.

    I carry a X-large can of pepper spray that I call my Holiday Fogger and just dose the aggressive ones right there on the sidewalk if they cross the line (3 feet or less. I do not retreat or run) I also do not shoot them anymore due to the veiwpoint of the eyes of the responding officers and the court proceedings afterwards. (It is against the law to shoot somebody for being a mouthy assh_le. If you shoot them, they are now the victem and You are the aggressive assh_le in the eyes of the law.) Pepper spray and Nikes are a good compromise.

    I shop for canned food at the discount warehouse when I get off duty late at night. This is when I’ve been approached while in the parking lot. The last time I touched off a chemical defense it was an experiment: I sprayed down 3 unruly tweenagers with most of a can of Bear Repellant. It worked as good as any of the CS/CN I used to use and it sent one kid to the Hospital. I have not been bothered by them ever since.

    Other than avoidance and defensive spray, I am an Asian Driver driving a truck. That is a really deadly combination and All I have to do is operate the pedals and hold on to the steering wheel. Other drivers from California tend to get out of my way and give me lots of space. (Mr. Magoo School of Performance Driving.)

    I also write a check out to the local community aid in my town on a 1x/2 month frequency. It is all I can afford and it is put to good use. Most people tend to contribute only around the Holiday season when the need is continuous year round. So, I am not a complete ogre but I can be a rude assh_le at times.

  25. Another scary trend I read in the above posts is going to the ATM after dark.

    I worked undercover robbery detail years ago at ATMs when they were first being installed. We essentially took money out waiting to get robbed and let the take-down squad tackle or shoot the guy. It was dicey work. I put the gun on a lot of people myself (S&W K-frame round butt 357 mag) and a coworker shot a per with a 40 S&W. (despite criticisms, the 40 S&W works just fine on people)

    Now that I am retired from that work, I get cash back at the grocery stores or bank with a human teller during the daytime. The last time my Wife took money out of a dark, isolated ATM, I drove around the parking lot before parking, loaded my pistol and stood watch while my wife and neighbor lady both withdrew cash. Police work does not make for an optimistic, cheery outlook on life.

  26. I was approached last year returning to my vehicle from a pharmacy (usually a good place for such criminal activity in my neck of the burbs). Hey the guy says, remember me? You don’t remember me bro as he starts walking my way. I simply raised my shirt and tucked it behind my sidearm and turned his way as I stated, No, I don’t Know You Man. His reply was, I’m good. thought you were someone else. Yeah, the .45acp change your thinking. Now I do not advise this type of response unless you are a trained firearm carrier. Also, consult your local laws. In my state, open carry is legal, so my action was justified in my situational eye’s.
    Stay sharp, train often and watch your six!

  27. I pass five or six panhandlers everyday on my way home from work, but have NEVER seen one at 0530 on my way INTO work. If I ever do I’d give them $20.00 just for un-assing themselves from their slumber. It’s a safe bet that will never happen with this country’s slack-ass beggars.

  28. Oops, wonder where my message went? Halfway done and it went to cyberspace, hate it when that happens. To start anew, I always suggested to my ER patients that if they wanted to help the homeless, contribute to the shelters and soup kitchens. All to often their long wait in the lobby after triage is contributed to by one or more drunks who got the money for the booze as handouts. Next thing you know they have a bottle of Vodka, start drinking and can’t stop until they fall down at which some well meaning person calls 911. Now their occupying 10 to 20% or more of the ER beds. If they are lucky they get a warm blanket and a meal or two. Kind of rewarding negative behavior and kudos to the ERs who have at least stopped feeding them. If they are unlucky its winter and when they fall into a ditch they are not found for a day or two. So you can think of at least some of those handouts as killing with kindness. All to often our LEOs are dumping them on the ERs so they don’t have to deal with the paperwork and keeping their budgetary costs down. For shame! Actually I have been known to pass out the occasional 20 or 2 when I see a young couple with their homes on their backs. Maybe I’m making a mistake but nobody is perfect.

  29. At Taco Bell during lunch time, 3 girls in their pajamas and on a school day were outside of the business. Dh asked me do you have any money with you for lunch or do you need any money. Of course the door was slightly open and the girls heard us. One came up to me and said ” I need money give me some”, I looked at her an said NO!” The look on her face was what did you say. After dealing with students in grade school my attitude with this little snots has made me a nasty women to deal with during my summer time break.

    I went into the TB, told the cashier you have panhandlers outside, your manager needs to get rid of them. They went out and of course the girls said oh, no we did not do anything like that, with me standing at the door watching this go on. They were given a choice leave or go to jail for panhandling.
    Never have seen them again.

  30. My summer time break, I resigned working at the school because I dealt with this attitude during my 6 years at the school. Parents who’s little darling would never do anything wrong, could not take the stress any longer.

  31. When I have to do that “rare visit” to WalMart, my dear dude always drops me off right at the front door. I’m always carrying while in the stores. When I’m finished shopping, I call him on the cell phone, and he pulls up in front of the store, and helps me “toss” all the purchases into the car, and we drive away. I NEVER walk through a parking lot. NEVER.

  32. Thanks for the advice but what would you recomend if you’re in a position where you are unable to just walk away? One time I was traveling on business in Cincinnati on Easter Sunday. Everything was closed and i was the only person walking near the fountain on fourth street when I was approached by an aggressive panhandler. I tried to walk away and avoided eye contact but since I was the only person around he persued me and when I refused to give him money he grabbed hold of my jacket. In this situation I couldn’t just call 911 since it will take 5 minutes for police to arrive and I didn’t know if my actions would be considered self-defense under Ohio law. In another incident in Las Vegas I had a guy who claimed to be an “aspiring rap musician” insist in offering me a CD of his music and I refused to accept his CD. He insisted that it was free and signed it. I refused again and he got upset and claimed that even though I didn’t want his CD that was supposedly free, he argued that I was obligated to give him money since he signed this CD. There was a crowd of people so I couldn’t avoid him in the first place. After being harassed for money I finally gave him money since I couldn’t just walk away since the walkway was conjested with other people. After I gave him a donation he had 4 other “aspiring rap musicians” come and offer CD copies of their music and request donations. As i was throwing away the CD given to me I was approached by another “aspiring rap musician” who happened to notice i had a CD in my hand from another “aspiring rap musician” give me a “free” CD and ask for a donation. I refused to give him money and he questioned why I didn’t want to help him when I helped another “aspiring rap musician”. I told him that I’m out of money and he asked me to give him his “free” CD back and I was able to walk away to avoid him. How do you handle situations where it isn’t practicle to avoid them or they persue you and grab you to stop you from walking away?

    1. no idea if these would work, but I have had folks tell me they actually have for them…..

      First always keep your eye on their hands, and where they are looking – you don’t want to be stabbed etc.

      -act crazy….no one (even a panhandler) wants to deal with crazy…I met a man once who sailed his sailboat alone on long (months long) extended trips “out at sea”. I asked if he didn’t ever run in to threatening situations, and he said yes, but his secret was to act “so crazy” the “pirates” didn’t think it worth their while..Once he said he had a boat with several people on it threaten him when they got close enough to see he was alone (or appeared to be), and he said he started acting crazy and yelling and threatening to set their boat on fire, as he held up a gas can.

      -speak gibberish as if you are speaking a foreign language, and look as if you are questioning them.

      -act as if you’re deaf/hard of hearing, and cannot make out what they say.

      trouble with all of these, is your still “vulnerable”.

      1. Thanks for your advice. It does sound that acting crazy or acting as if you are unable to understand or hear them may help. I just wish that panhandling can be completely banned. I even have friends who tell me that I’m rude because I refuse to give money to panhandlers. I guess they never encountered aggressive panhandlers or gave to one panhandler only to have several other panhandlers also want money from them. It makes sense to act crazy or intimidating since a lot of animals in the wild do this when they feel threatened. For example the blowfish is quite harmless but it is able to increase it’s size that scares away predators. We shouldn’t have to act crazy, speak gibberish, or act like we are deaf to avoid aggressive panhandlers. Once someone tells a panhandler ‘no’ it would be nice of the panhandler would just leave you alone. A local news station even had a reporter recently determine how much he can make panhandling and was surprised to learn he makes nearly as much panhandling as he does at his job. It isn’t a First Amendment right to panhandle once you request money and the person tells you that they do no wish to give you money or are giving behavioral cues that they don’t wish to give them money such as trying to walk away. We are very vulnerable and it isn’t unheard of for homeless people to resort to violence and have a weapon such as a knife to get their way. I did notice an increase in police presence shortly after my incident in Las Vegas and most of the panhandlers who I’ve seen every day during my vacation were gone. Perhaps the police were notified about some aggressive panhandling. I’m surprised hotels are able to prevent many of these panhandlers from coming inside to harass patrons for change. These walkways are close to entrances to hotels and restaurants so I’m surprised they don’t just go inside the hotels, restaurants, and casinos to beg for money. I guess that if they do, a lot of the hotels have security guards who can deal with them and kick them off the property and have them arrested for trespassing. I do support the homeless by donating to private charities and understand that people can be having hard times but most of these homeless people seem to be giving people the guilt trip and in some cases even intimidating people into giving them money. According to a lot of police departments, most of these homeless people begging for money aren’t actually homeless. If I went out in these walkways and tried to solicit people to invest in an “investment opportunity” to make money I’m sure I would be arrested even if I wasn’t pitching some pyramid scheme and my investment was perfectly legal and was a true investment opportunity.

        1. cant argue with a thing you say re panhandling, except, they do not make (some of them)almost as much as a job…mostly if you add in everything, they make more…
          –no taxes paid
          —no deductions paid
          —–still get what ever social help they get

          I do not/have not given to panhandlers, of either gender, as they have almost always felt “threatening” to me. (and I have worked in some situations with some “interesting” folks). I will not be pressured or “threatened” in to giving money.

          there have only been a few exceptions to this…(in many many yrs)
          —I used to pack my lunch when I was out and about all day…Now we are talking a lunch which might not appeal to most..Canned sardines — easy to pull top off and eat with fork, apple, dried bread, some kind of drink, etc.)
          –on a few occasions I came out of convenience store, and someone would be sitting quietly back against the outside wall. They would ask something like “could I spare any change so they could buy a bit of something in the store (they had a few cheap food options). Each time I would say…” I have packed my lunch, and explain what was in it, and ask if they would like to have it?”..Each time they said yes please. As I drove off I could see them digging in and eating it (I did wonder if they would eat the sardines). Each time I was very glad I had this packed lunch to give them, and it surely did me no harm to miss a few lunches.

        2. This is a common ploy by the media to make claims that the homeless make $50 or more an hour panhandling. The truth is you don’t make very much panhandling and if given a choice these hungry people would prefer a job instead begging for spare change. Nearly all of the homeless I’ve worked with had no mental illness and weren’t taking drugs. None of the homeless I work with have resorted to violence when someone doesn’t give them change. You shouldn’t fear the homeless. You may end up being homeless one day.

    2. I highly doubt your stories and if these are true then it sounds like you have money to travel and can spare some change. Would you have felt differently if these were not rap musicians? With how widespread piracy is, smaller musicians are unable to make any money because people can download their work off the internet for free. Larger musicians are able to make money from their recording company but the smaller musicians are the ones who are hit the hardest by piracy since they are not affiliated with a large recording company. I’ve worked with many homeless people and can tell you that I don’t know a single person who would grab someone who refused to give them money.

      1. Just because someone has money doesn’t mean that they should be obligated to give money to panhandlers. This “aspiring rap musician” and his friends wanted $20 or a total of $100 which I cannot spare. Most of my trips are business trips paid by my employer. This trip to Vegas was a personal trip though. I am willing to bet that if I kept the CD’s and played them either there will be nothing on the CD or it would be music that isn’t worth the $20 donation they demanded for these CD’s. A lot of aspiring musicians had their start by offering free copies of their music or playing free concerts and were noticed by a major record label. This “aspiring rap musician” and his friends were giving people CDs under the impression that they are free then demanding a $20 donation and either wanted their CD’s back in the one case or refused to take no for an answer or take back their CD’s. I gave money to the first guy just to get him to leave me alone only to find out he had four other friends who also wanted money. Unfortunately I couldn’t avoid the first “aspiring rap musicians” since the walkway was congested. I tried to tell them I had no money but the first guy happened to see me pay for an item with cash at a store and knew I was lying to him. I felt threatened by him and his friends especially when I was walking alone and there were no cops around to protect me if they persisted. In addition, it was creepy for me to hear him explain to me that he knows I have money since he saw me in a shop paying in cash for something. It isn’t unheard of panhandlers to resort to physical attacks on people who refuse to give them money. From personal experience I had one homeless person grab me when I refused to give him change. I can care less what type of music someone is offering CD’s of. They can always post their music online or offer free CD’s or concerts and get noticed like other big name musicians have done.

        1. golly gee, I have to chime in.

          Marcus, of course you should not feel obligated to purchase a CD from anyone,or even these folks. Even more, sounds like these folks have a well run scam going on. Four of them? All selling CD’s? Sounds a bit like some of those phone scams.

          Danielle, if you have worked with charming, non violent homeless, you have been lucky. There truly are some who are violent and not so charming.

          re these folks, suspect they are not really homeless, and are more along the lines of a group running a scam.

        2. I figured it was more of a scam too especially when I encountered another individual who had the same story several feet away from the walkway claiming he was homeless and an aspiring RAP musician and offering me a free CD of his music. He asked for a donation like the others and remarked how generous I must be to have helped other RAP musicians (he saw the other CD’s that I had and apparently knew that these other RAP musicians weren’t just giving them away for free without a donation). He handed me one of his CD’s and asked me to help him too and when I told him I was out of money he got upset and demanded his CD back that he initially told me that he was giving out for free. I’ve never had a panhandler (or scammer) suddenly tell me that he/she observed me paying with cash at a nearby store and he/she knew I wasn’t being truthful about not having any money like the first guy I encountered on the walkway did. He knew the name of the store I was at and what I bought at this store so he appeared to be looking around for potential victims. This caught me by surprise and I thought I was going to get mugged by him if I successfully walked away since he seemed to be paying attention to who had money with them. I once had a panhandler beg for money and say that he heard a jingle in my pocket (from spare change) and knew I had cash but never continued to harass me for cash. He just did it to try and lay a guilt trip in hopes I would change my mind and give him money. Most of the panhandlers I’ve encountered have accepted no as an answer or simply sat on the side of a walkway or street with a sign and not actually engaging people to give them money. The ones who do approach people for money are the ones I fear especially when these types seem to be more likely not to take no for an answer and may even be willing to physically grab or attack someone for money. Not all of the panhandlers are innocent non-violent people as Danielle claims to work with. I doubt they would tell him/her if they were violent with people who refuse to give them money.

  33. Aggression needs to be met with aggression. Someone approaches your vehicle, point a loaded gun or a pepper spray can at their head tell them if they bother you again-they will be DEALT WITH. PERIOD!

    For far too long the lazy police have let these shit bags bother people.

    Twice a zipper head banged on the window of my car at the same gas station-the second time he did it, I told him he would get hurt if he did it again.

    Guess what? Mr.dipshit did it a third time a week later-I opened my window and game him a straight left to the face-instant knockout!

    Don’t live in fear!


    If enough of these assholes get clobbered, pepper sprayed or shot, they will get the message-if they don’t too bad for them.

    I am only talking about the aggressive assholes not the ones that sit quietly with a sign.

  34. Daytona Beach has a real problem with beggars and panhandlers. They can make upwards of $600 per day standing on a corner begging. We have stopped shopping in communities that endorse them. We miss the great restaurants and shopping stores. Thinking about using Bear Spray or Mace to sway them to go elsewhere.

  35. Just last month an older couple felt sorry for a panhandler working an exit off the interstate …. rolled down their car window to pass over a few bucks …. first thing they know there’s a knife thru the window threatening them …

    DON”T ENGAGE!!!!!

    1. I have noticed / experienced, that a lot of the panhandlers that walk around lines of cars as they slow down/stop for traffic lights, can be quite “persistent” / “aggressive”..

      I have developed the technique of picking up my cell phone, and holding it as if I am talking into it, all the while visibly looking the person up and down, as if I am giving a description to the police on the cell.

      so far it has dissuaded any from persisting.

  36. For Marcus who was peddled CD’s by rap musicians, this has been a scam going on in Las Vegas for quite some time:

    If someone offers you a CD for “free”, don’t take it. They will also autograph the CD and claim that you are buying this autographed CD and cannot return it. If you are in this position, call the police since these folks have assaulted people who refused to give donations. Sometimes they will intimidate you by pushing the CD in your face until you take it. Whatever you do don’t accept this “free” CD. This isn’t just something going on in Las Vegas but it sounds like you encountered this scam in Las Vegas.

  37. One should also understand that everyone is different. Every single person you pass on that sidewalk has something different on their minds. If someone you pass is having a really bad day or is just plain nuts, ignoring them — in some cases — will be the last thing you wanna do.
    Why? Well in my opinion, just because your ignoring them does not mean they won’t stick you between the ribs with a knife.

  38. The best strategy? Ignore them. And if you’re sitting down when they approach you, stand up and walk away. Some of these people can get violent if you refuse to give them money. You are MUCH more vulnerable to an attack seated than standing. And if you walk away, you are out of their immediate zone. That gives you a legal edge in any further interaction if they approach you.

    I’ve dealt with this obnoxious collection of black reprobates (“aspiring rappers”) in the Washington, D.C. subway system many times. They are truly a vile lot. Don’t enable them. Because if you give them money, they will remember your face and will feel confident to shake you down if they see you again.

    1. one time I was sitting in a grocery parking lot with my window down, getting ready to go. Suzzy looking fellow came up and put his head part way into car, asking for money. I said I had none, but would give him what was in the ash tray. (being non smokers, we often kept change in ash tray).

      so he put his hand out (slightly inside car), and I scooped out ashtray and put it in hand. He then pulled his hand out, to examine what I had given.

      Thankfully, I quickly put window up/car in drive. As he examined my gift, and decided it was not enough, he started swearing and cursing, and very unhappy with me. I took off, but could see him swinging/waving a fist at me.

      I swear, even prior, I seldom had my car window down, NOW I make certain I do not.

      it was very scary. only reason I gave him the ashtray change, was to get rid of him.

  39. Had an experience yesterday (07/13/17) that was a bit unnerving. I walk around my neighborhood, which is pretty safe. Part of my walk takes me by a bridge, and there are homeless thriving underneath it. Until now, I’ve never been bothered by any of the homeless (they’ve tended to keep a low profile, because I believe they don’t want to lose their existing living space), but the current crop have been more aggressive.

    I was asked for the time by one guy yesterday. I was wearing my tracking device, which looks like a watch, so I laughed and told him I really didn’t have the time. He then started yelling at me, pointing to my cell phone, which I had strapped to my upper arm.

    I responded back with some of the most foul language you’ve ever heard. Because this was a very public street, I didn’t worry too much about him coming after me on his bike.

    While I’m not sure this was the best way to handle this (maybe I should have ignored him), I wanted to let him know I wasn’t afraid of him.

    After that, I then reported the incident to the local police. They advised me to take a different walking route (which I will do today), but didn’t take a report, which confounds me. There are many people walking that bridge and passing on it–kids on their bikes coming home from school, elderly couples walking–you get the idea.

    1. Quote, “While I’m not sure this was the best way to handle this (maybe I should have ignored him), I wanted to let him know I wasn’t afraid of him.”

      Your shouting back at him displayed much confidence on your part. A good move in my opinion. The bad element looks for the weak, not the strong…

      1. Ken

        I think you’re right about the approach “back”…
        some of it is (I think) an

        overwhelming display of confidence
        overwhelming display of “I am as nutty as you/more so…”

        Three times in the past yrs I have spoken with individuals who pretty much “defended” themselves by loudly swearing/yelling/screaming back, and were left alone.

        One of those times it was a man I was speaking with you sailed about all on his own. I asked him if this wasn’t dangerous. He said there were folks who had tried to “pirate” him/threaten him, but his defense (which he said had worked several times) was to act crazier/much crazier than them. One time he said he had screamed and yelled that he was about to throw his kerosene on their boat and light it on fire….All thought he was too crazy for them, and left. Speaking with him he didn’t “sound” crazy..but hey, neither was I going to steal his lunch…

  40. I have panhandlers at a strip mall with a gas station next to my apartment. Had a guy smoking ask me upon leaving the convince store if I had any money-I usually ignore panhandlers but was not feeling well and said no and then I work for a living-lucky nothing happened to me! If I see one again I am just going to simply say no. I am a single female who has no man to accompany her places so I must really be careful! I do think the majority of panhandlers just do not want to work. This man was smoking and cigarettes are not cheap!

    1. Plus, I suspect that many may also have ‘mental’ issues. Don’t provoke. Don’t engage. Keep moving. If you regularly travel in places where this exists, consider your personal security options.

  41. Just say: “Yo man; you gotta cigarette.” They almost always pat their pack, and say “No,” and they walk away!

    1. That is one kinda panhandler true but there are many others that just ask straight out need money for a few gallons of gas don’t even have a car they point to random car of you ask anyway the best way to deal with these types is tell the person at the register or store your at that they have some people panhandling outside. While they may not get to it right away they will run them off the property.heres a good one I heard the other day from an elderly gentleman.”with gas prices this high sorry I just can’t afford it.” Others just simply pat their pockets and” sorry don’t have the money”. Others and my favorite one to use.”sorry I only use plastic.” If they ask if you can buy them something in the store. I simply tell them ” sorry I don’t have the money” there are allot of ways to avoid a person asking for some money. Also if their asking for money for gas offer to pay for a gallon ask them for their gas canister if they want gas they will go get it if not they will say nevermind.

  42. There are allot of hyper aggressive panhandlers out there. I happen to know the local ones quite well. I say if there flying a sign not asking for money or anything is it considered hyper agressive. I feel like if there not coming upto you in anyway or form unless you call em over. Those are less likely to be aggressive. Other then that I have to say most are agressive going to people’s cars, greeting them at the door, or greeting them at the exit. I once flew a sign I needed the money for my cats and my brother’s dog food. But I didn’t go upto cars unless I was called over all I did was fly a sign. Didn’t go upto cars or sit at the door of the restaurant. I flew a sign at the curb waited for people to call me over. I feel if their being agressive roll up your windows. Tell the staff inside as they will run people off the property. if you choose to engage them just saying for those who do there’s always risk but you can always direct them to nearby resources that can help. Most people will appreciate it. If you do wanna help if they ask for food buy the food before hand if your worried their not going to use it for what they say.

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