CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — Concern is mounting in communities around the Sacramento area as a panhandler sets up shop with a newborn baby in tow.
The woman has been spotted from Citrus Heights to Roseville and everywhere in between, carrying an infant outside in the hot sun. Many fear the baby’s life is in danger and although the situation appears unsafe, police say on the surface it may not be criminal.
“This is a dangerous situation,” said one Orangevale man who didn’t want to be identified. “It was 101 degrees.”
Begging for money in the hot sun and carrying a newborn baby, one panhandler has many worried that she’s endangering an infant’s life to get more cash.
“I thought the baby was fake at first,” said the man, “using it as a prop. She would come up and kind of coddle the baby to you a little bit.”
The man ran into the woman at a Safeway shopping center in Orangevale last week. He says the baby was dressed in winter clothing and appeared to be flushed and lethargic.
“The way that she was holding it looked so careless.”
The scene was also a concern in Folsom, where one shopper questioned the woman’s behavior, recording the interaction.
The shopper said, “I don’t find that this is a safe thing for you to do with a newborn baby.”
The woman responded only saying she does have a home to live in and then quickly walked away. Many witnessed her hop into a white van, that CBS13 found is currently registered to an unknown Folsom address.
“I’m appalled by this behavior. I think it’s criminal,” said the Orangevale man.
According to police, the behavior may not be illegal.
Citrus Heights Police Sgt. Kris Frey said, “It’s not unlawful to take a child out in public.”
Citrus Heights PD responded to a call for a welfare check of the infant at the Safeway shopping center in Citrus Heights on Sunday, but when officers arrived the woman was gone. They say without seeing the baby it’s hard to say if she could be charged with child endangerment.
“Honestly, we haven’t had enough information with the adult female to determine what her situation is,” said Sgt. Frey.
Many say the situation is clear.
“How can a little baby survive like that?” said Citrus Heights resident Cathi Larson.
They hope it doesn’t end tragically.
“This is a child’s life.”
CBS13 gave the license plate information to Citrus Heights Police, which says it will look into. One woman says she did file an official report with CPS, but Sacramento County CPS officials could not confirm.