Springfield police say be on the lookout for traveling group of panhandlers

Campbell and Battlefield intersection in Springfield.
Campbell and Battlefield intersection in Springfield.(KY3)
Published: Sep. 17, 2023 at 7:56 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Springfield Police Department warns drivers to think twice before giving money to panhandlers.

The department is dealing with a group using women and children to scam you out of your hard-earned money.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Back in October 2022, we brought you a story of a traveling panhandling group that was scamming people by panhandling for money for a funeral for a 15-year-old that never actually existed.

They’re back, and police say they’ve got a new angle, using a woman and small kids to panhandle for rent money.

“The situation we were faced with today was similar to previous incidents where we’ve had traveling organized groups, panhandling and asking for money for certain themes, whether it’s a funeral or to pay rent,” said LT. Umbarger with Springfield Police. “In the past, we have had organized groups that travel through the city with children, women, and men who are typically asking for money for the same situations, whether it’s a funeral, or for rent, or they’re selling roses, but it is an organized traveling group. And that is what we saw today.”

Police say what the panhandlers are doing violates city ordinances. And officers say it’s just outright dangerous.

“Personally, as a mother, it concerns me,” said Lt. Umbarger. “You know, the first thing I worry about is, you know, do these children have a safe place to go home to at night, and do they have food? Do they have shelter? Do they are their basic needs being met?”

People working in the area say they see these panhandlers all the time.

“They want to assess the situation to provide them with adequate resources,” said Umbarger. “Just giving the money may not necessarily be what is needed at the time. So that’s where we are able to provide a variety of things.”

SPD said in a Facebook post on the situation in part:

“These types of activities are in violation of Springfield city ordinances, and we would also like to remind the public that you should not give cash to any individual without verifying the cause.”

If you see these panhandlers, police say to call 911.

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