The quiet panhandler

Rangdan's picture

Ok. There is a guy who is supposedly speech challenged who panhandles on BART trains by giving out notes to passengers, then going around and collecting the booty. I didn't know whether this was a scam or not. I didn't contribute, but he was raking in the dollars on my car. Legitimate?

Thorbjørn's picture

I hate that guy. I've run into him a few times on weekend mornings. The pamphlet is just some thing showing some basic signs and the alphabet in sign language that he obviously photocopied out of some book for about 1 cent. I think people feel more obligated to give him money since he "gives" them the paper, he makes them hold onto it for a while before he comes for his money and then they feel put on the spot since they have to deal with giving him the paper back, (rather than just ignoring the usual pan-handlers). If you don't take it, he'll put it on your seat or throw it in your lap or something.

It seems like a good psychological tactic. I don't know if the guy is really deaf or not. Maybe someone should yell something insulting at him while he's looking the other way and see if he responds. Either way, I cry foul, since I know people with disabilities that are able to be productive without asking for handouts on BART. I suspect a scam.

MalcoveMagnesia's picture

is there a non-emergency number for BART police so I could call in whenever I see this guy?

and would it be appropriate to call in, anyways?

You could stand behind him and scream "LOOK OUT" and see if he turns around =)

If he does react, tape a sign to his back saying he is a fake.

I've seen this guy working the streets in Chinatown. I gave him back the pamphlet and walked away.

Officer Jo-Jo's picture

Several years ago I was working a "plain clothes" detail when my partner and I stopped a guy doing this. He tried so hard to convince us that he was deaf, but we weren't buying it. It turned out he had a warrant for his arrest and drug paraphernalia in his possession. We eventually got him to talk when he found out he was en-route to jail.

"Don't feed the panhandlers. They will go away when the money runs out."

Direct line to BART Police: 1-510-464-7000
Toll free anywhere: 1-877-679-7000

I think you have to press 1 to be transfered to BART Police on the toll free line. I haven't tried it. The direct line is the quickest. Please be patient with the dispatcher. They have to have certain information before they can dispatch an officer.

911 on a cell phone gets you the Highway Patrol, who transfers to the city police, who transfers you to us. This process will delay our response by several minutes. Please call us directly.

We should use this number even in a non-emergency situation?

Officer Jo-Jo's picture

The only way you can call 911 and get the BART Police Communications Center is from a payphone at the station or emergency call box in the parking lots. However, some of the payphones in downtown S.F. will call S.F.P.D. since we share the station with MUNI.

We typically have enough dispatchers on duty to answer all calls coming in. If they are very busy they may ask if you have an emergency or can you hold. At that point they will dispatch the emergency calls prior to the non-emergency.

If you are using a cell phone, call us directly. It's faster emergency or not. We will take the call on the 1-510-464-7000 line.

Mikokat's picture

I believe it would be appropriate. Panhandling is illegal and he's bothering people on the train. I'm only about 97% sure, though. We'll have to get an answer from Shrapnel or Jo-Jo if we want to be 100% sure.

I've seen this guy many times over the years. People are also selling CDs and everything else on the train these days which isn't much better than panhandling because it is still bothersome.

They do it cause they can get away with it.

stoconnell's picture

He's been on my usual morning train (9:25 Milbrae train at Downtown Berkeley) a couple times in the past week or two. He was in my car usual car this morning.