Grass Valley police see increase in out-of-town panhandlers | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley police see increase in out-of-town panhandlers

Grass Valley police say panhandlers from outside the county are working a scam on people who want to help those in need.

Police noticed the increase in panhandlers over the past three months. Officers have spotted women with small children and families asking for money or food, usually near larger shopping centers.

“We believe it’s a tactic being used,” Sgt. Dan Kimbrough said. “We think it’s a scam. That’s their job.”

According to Kimbrough, the panhandlers will come to the area, collect money and then leave for their homes in Sacramento or other cities.

“They are not local folks,” the sergeant said.

Kimbrough called Grass Valley a “giving community.” He said many people, especially during the holidays, will give money when they see someone with a child in need.

Kimbrough encouraged people to give to local groups that help the homeless.

Janice O’Brien, president of Sierra Roots, heads one local organization that helps feed homeless people.

O’Brien suggested people who are asked for money instead refer the person to a group like hers, Divine Spark or Hospitality House.

Divine Spark has a homeless day center at 606 Gold Flat Road, Nevada City. Hospitality House is a homeless shelter at 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.