Reporting Ron Jones
MODESTO (CBS13) – Some Modesto business owners are taking a stand against aggressive panhandlers, saying their demands for dollars are leaving many people upset and in fear.
Business owners CBS13 spoke with Monday say they are fed up with panhandlers keeping their customers away, and also forcing them out of business.
“I’ll come out here and say ‘Keep my customers alone and go away,” Juanita Medina said.
“I’m kind of afraid sometimes being in there by myself,” Adriane Teixeira said.
Merchants and employees at Coffee Plaza strip mall say area businesses are suffering and even closing because of persistent panhandlers.
“You can see a lot of them have closed already,” Medina said.
Some are so aggressive Medina said she’s leery of being there at night.
“I’m afraid to walk to my car,” Medina said. “There’s always people here and there.”
“They’re always coming up to you, hitting you up for money,” customer Scott Gibson said. “You get kind of spooked. You don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Hymie Munson is homeless and lives in a nearby parking lot. He denies the allegations.
“We’re not just asking for money,” he said, “we’re asking for work.”
Hymie and some of his friends may not only face homelessness but possibly untreated mental illness. Employees say it still doesn’t excuse their aggressiveness.
“It gets worse in the wintertime because they want to go to jail so they’ll have someplace to sleep,” 76 station worker Diseree Richards said.
Some of the business owners who are determined to stay tell CBS13 they’re hoping to work something out with city officials to deal with aggressive panhandling. City officials weren’t available for comment on Monday.