On the corner of Sports Arena Blvd and Rosecrans
  • On the corner of Sports Arena Blvd and Rosecrans
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Leaving the Sprouts Market in Clairemont last week, I saw a young blonde woman standing at the parking-lot exit with a cardboard sign and a stroller. As I approached the exit, she leaned into the stroller for a moment. Suddenly, a young red-headed girl was craning her neck from the stroller to smile at me and the others behind me.

Woman begging with child in Target parking lot entrance in Clairemont on July 3.

Woman begging with child in Target parking lot entrance in Clairemont on July 3.

She hid the sign when she saw the camera.

She hid the sign when she saw the camera.

I've seen children being used to beg more often lately, especially in front of the Target and McDonald’s on Balboa Avenue. Sometimes the children are even holding the cardboard signs in the sun while the adults sit in the shade.

I've always been someone who gave money to beggars. I assumed that anyone who had to ask a stranger for help must be hurting. Until I saw "the shift change" at the corner of Midway and Rosecrans in Point Loma. As a young man stood on the median with a cardboard sign begging, I witnessed a four-door car pull up beside him. Another man jumped out of the car onto the median and traded places with the beggar. The cardboard sign was handed off as the original beggar disappeared into the same car. I thought to myself, Did that just happen? I stopped asking this when I saw the same thing occur a few months later at a median on Balboa and Genesee in Clairemont. Different beggars, same scenario.

I've heard rumors about organized begging for years but before the "shift change" I had never seen it. Then something occurred to me: I know every homeless person in my neighborhood. I see them almost every day and I always talk to them when our paths cross (usually when walking my dogs). I have never once witnessed any begging from the known homeless in my neighborhood. I see the same homeless people for years but the beggars always have new faces. How can this be?

After discussing this with neighbors face-to-face and on nextdoor.com, I heard similar stories about kind-hearted people giving items to mothers and children who were begging in front of stores, only to later find all of their gifts left behind.

By far, the most disturbing incident was shared by Laura F. on nextdoor.com: "About a year or so ago I have a relative that saw someone they knew holding a sign with a child. They were not in Clairemont where they live. They were in Point Loma. This person doesn't have any children. It turned out this person was getting paid to babysit and would take the child because the handouts were bigger with children present. The parents had no idea this was happening until they were spotted."

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Comments

casurfer212 July 7, 2015 @ 11:51 p.m.

Thanks for letting us know about this. Also, your recent articles on the rooftop solar industry were very helpful. I had two rooftop solar companies come out to my 800k home and lie to my face 2 weeks ago about the upcoming rate changes that seek to get more money out of solar customers. The two companies that lied to me are Sunline Energy Solutions and Empowered Energy Solutions. Anyone reading this don't trust them they are liars. The actual Presidents too not just some overzealous sales reps tried to pressure me into signing a bad deal and gave me completely erroneous information. Wanted to say thanks so much for keeping us informed!!!!

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AlexClarke July 8, 2015 @ 6:02 a.m.

When something becomes popular and in demand the scamsters come out of the woodwork. I remember when it was home insulation and everyone seemed to go into the business. Buyer beware.

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Visduh July 8, 2015 @ 9:06 a.m.

The other hot home improvement thing now is window replacement. Not to say that replacing old and cheesy aluminum windows with thermopane windows is a bad idea, but you need some competitive bids. I paid one fully reputable contractor only about half the price quoted by another one that advertises extensively, and touts its family values and shows the husband, wife and kids.

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jnojr July 8, 2015 @ 12:16 p.m.

This has been known for YEARS. I hope everyone stops giving money to these worthless parasites. And yes, that's what they all are. Even the ones holding "disabled vet" signs. It's all BS. They're liars and thieves and drug users who have one goal... to get over on you. Oh, how I wish we could go back to the days when "panhandling" earned you a one-way ticket out of town the first time, a beating and a ticket the second time, and a trip to the ER if you were dumb enough to come back again.

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Psycholizard July 8, 2015 @ 12:42 p.m.

Keep your eyes open, but don't close your heart.

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swell July 8, 2015 @ 8:27 p.m.

I've been hearing many anecdotes and rumors along these lines. Don't know where any reliable statistics might be found. Some people tell me about beggars who ride off in their Cadillacs at the end of their 'working' day. Of course they haven't actually seen this, they heard it somewhere but they know it to be true.

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navyblue007 July 8, 2015 @ 10:45 p.m.

i was homeless once, it was hard. I was downown and every corner had a homeless person begging. I got yelled at saying how my clothes were new and my hair was spiked. i didn't have money but the things on my back which i still had. My roommate assaulted and took all my money and was forced to go to the streets. People didn't stop to listen to everything i went through, they ignored me. Another place i went to was to ocean beach, its the closest beach to downtown after taking the trolley. I stayed in front of a church, at night the neighborhood kids throw stuff at us. I went through sleepless nights and was scared at night. My stuff was even stolen during the night. I still need help to this day. still don't have all my financial in place and now have medical bills or other bills. It is very hard to beg money from strangers. It hurts even more to share the story of how it came to be homeless.

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clairemontresident July 9, 2015 @ 10:38 a.m.

I have also seen this in the parking lot of Walmart and Boomers (Near Balboa and the 805) several times. Different women, different small children in the strollers each time. What is most upsetting part is that in order to make their kids more visible to passing drivers, these women have not been using the sunshades on the strollers, leaving their kids in direct sunlight and absolutely miserable.

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rshimizu12 July 9, 2015 @ 11:08 p.m.

I think one is better off donating directly to a charity like Father Joe's or the Salvation Army. Most of the beggars I see do not seem all that bad off. I see this one guy with his dog by the Seaworld /I-8 exit. Why is this guy begging when he owns a dog......?

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