A pregnant panhandler in San Diego was photographed with a little boy begging for cash in a shopping mall. Melissa Smith photographed the woman who she had seen regularly panhandling in the area of Eastlake Village Center during the last two months. Smith says that she photographed the pregnant woman and her presumed son after she spotted her being picked up by a man she assumed was her husband or boyfriend in a Mercedes-Benz.
“I noticed they grabbed their little boy and they got into a Mercedes Benz,” Smith said, according to multiple media reports. “I thought, ‘Wow, a Mercedes Benz. It’s not even used — it’s not old. It’s a new Benz.'”
Smith said that she recognized the man that who driving the Mercedes-Benz because he would join them on the weekends to panhandle. Smith said that the beggar held a cardboard sign that read, “Please help.”
“Lots of people gave them money,” Smith told the reporter. “Probably five people in five minutes gave them money.”
Smith recalled that she was getting gas when she saw the panhandler and the child get into the Mercedes-Benz. Smith got into her car and drove away. She said that, coincidentally, the panhandling trio in the Mercedes-Benz ended up driving in front of her.
“Lo and beyond they were in front of us,” Smith said. “Here they are counting money, laughing and their little boy is not in a car seat or seat belt. He’s all the way in the front seat with them.”
Smith then started taking photographs of the car, the people inside the car and the car’s license plates. She says that the Mercedes-Benz stopped at a different shopping plaza, after being followed the short distance by Smith.
“They drive down to the other McDonald’s,” Smith explained. “She sits there with the sign. He goes and parks the Mercedes. Not less than five minutes here she is getting money from all these people.”
At that point, Smith said that she took some additional pictures of the panhandlers asking for money from strangers. Smith explained that she was taking pictures as evidence to show her friends that the beggars didn’t actually need the money.
“They don’t need it. They are driving a Benz,” Smith decided.
After taking the second round of photographs, Smith said that the pregnant panhandler nearly assaulted her. She said that the woman started yelling at Smith to stop taking pictures of her and the child. The encounter didn’t end there though. Smith explained that quickly the pregnant panhandler became angry and picked up a boulder that Smith described as very large. Smith then said that she didn’t even know if a pregnant woman could lift a boulder that size. The woman, according to Smith, lifted it over her head and then came at Smith with it. Someone who witnessed the encounter called the police, but the couple and the child were gone by the time the police arrived.
After Smith showed her photo evidence to investigative journalists at KGTV, they ran the license plates on the Mercedes-Benz. The plates were registered to a woman with an address at an Escondido apartment complex. The apartments, WXYZ reported, have a monthly rent of about $2,400. Still, when reporters tried to contact the woman, the person who was living at the address said she only recently moved in and that she was not the registered owner of said Mercedes Benz. The news team was unable to locate a forwarding address and did not state if that was because the woman was living with someone else as a house guest, had become homeless, or had not established legal residency at a new address yet.
On social media, some are saying they’ve seen this same panhandler for years, always appearing pregnant. Others are suggesting people withhold judgement until the whole story is known. As of the latest reports, the pregnant panhandler has not told her side of the story, so reasons as to why she was begging for money, such as a recent job loss to correspond with the residence change, are not clear.
[Photo via KGTV video still]