Street safety: Beware of a new begging tactic

A New Zealand Web site has published an article warning about a new begging tactic that threatens motorists’ security.  I’ve heard of the same tactic being tried in at least three US cities over the past few months, so it looks to be on the increase.  Here’s an excerpt from the article.

Brazen beggars have upped the ante in their quest for money by opening car doors to harass motorists.

In Palmerston North, acting inspector Brett Calkin said he knew of at least two instances in the past week of beggars approaching cars and opening the driver’s side door just after the driver had parked on Broadway Ave.

“We’ve had a couple of reports of that happening, particularly to elderly people, it can be quite frightening. We want them to call us straight away, or if someone sees it happening to call us, or go into the nearest shop and use the phone to call us from there.”

Manawatu Standard reporter Jono Galuszka had a similar experience on Saturday morning, while he was stopped at the traffic lights on King St.

Mr Galuszka said his passenger-side door was approached by a man as he sat stationary at the intersection about 8.30am.

The man looked in and saw the door was locked, and walked around the car to his driver’s side door.

As he reached for the handle, Mr Galuszka hit the lock and found himself on the end of a tirade of abuse.

There’s more at the link.

The danger of this tactic to your security is obvious, as are its advantages to the panhandler.  Consider:

  1. The beggar can be more brazen, even more threatening, in his approach, because you no longer have the perceived security of your car’s body and windows between you and him.  He may also make your passengers – even your small children – very uncomfortable, adding to the pressure on you to give him something.
  2. You may feel unable to drive away with a door open for safety reasons, giving him longer to pressure you for money.
  3. If he has criminal intentions, he is now in a much better position to carry them out.

All I can say is, if any panhandler tries that trick on me, he’ll find my doors locked;  and if he tries to open them regardless, he’s going to get a very robust response.  I have no patience with such intrusions whatsoever.

Please, readers and friends, give this matter your consideration right now, and plan ahead of time what you’re going to do about it.  I suggest a good first step is to make sure all your vehicle’s doors are locked before setting out on any journey, no matter how short, and that the windows are raised sufficiently to prevent someone getting a hand or an arm inside.  Further measures for your security are highly advisable, IMHO, but I’ll leave them up to you.



  1. Walmart parking lots are famous down here. You are approached by a young and attractive male or female, but the story is the same: "Our car is out of gas and grandma and the baby are in the car. Could you spare some change?"

    Joe actually took out his wallet on two different occasions and gave money.

    Luckily, someone besides his wife told him it was a scam.

  2. A robust response. Indeed. Practice drawing from concealment while buckled in. Believe me, it NEEDS practice. And a silencer… but that's another story.

  3. I thought most vehicles doors automatically lock as soon as it hits a factory preset speed, around 5-10mph.

    Still, I'd consider the reaction a sister had many years ago, when some lowlife grabbed the doorhandle of her bug, while she was in a 7-11 parking lot. She proceeded to launch HARD. [Those original vw bugs could outrun anything for the first 20 feet :)] She commented that she didn't think he would be using that hand/arm for quite a while, not to mention the other damage he possibly sustained.

  4. My father had some way to rig a car to where the metal skin became electrified, it was a big joke and his friends soon learned not to get close to his car. I think he used a magneto which is separate from the regular system. Shield is up captain!

  5. We recently rented a GMC Acadia SUV that I hated for one reason.

    The doors would auto-lock when you put the car in gear which is fine. What drove me CRAZY was that the doors would auto-UNlock when you put the car in park. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

  6. In Kentucky as part of our "stand your ground" law If someone opens your car door or otherwise makes you believe that "You or another are in danger of death or great bodily harm" you can kill them on the spot. You DO NOT need a permit of any kind to carry a weapon in your car, and you only need to believe that you are in danger. You cannot be arrested for an SD shooting nor can you have your gun taken or be subjected to a "wrongful death" torts action. Needless to say carjacking and in car mugging are VERY rare, and often end with a shot perpetrator.—–Ray

  7. Missouri has a law not unlike that of Kentucky- one's vehicle is included under the Castle Doctrine law, with no permit needed for vehicle carry.

    Even so, I'd not be that interested in shooting a panhandler just because he thinks he's going to get a better response that way. Better to keep doors locked.

    If people want to intimidate me out of my money, they can run for office and use the IRS like the professionals do.

  8. Living in Maryland, a firearm is not an option. I always carry a knife, plus there are two in my car within easy reach. Doors are always locked, and the driver's side window is always up, the rest seldom lower than halfway. About 20 years ago a co-worker was robbed at "needle-point" in DC by someone claiming said needle was AIDS-infected, so give me your wallet. Lesson learned. Staying out of Condition White is always a good idea.

  9. when driving to visit my father in Panama City one evening, we pulled off the freeway in Montgomery AL about 11pm to pick up the road south. There was a sketchy looking lad who spotted the glow from my wife's ipad she was doing something on. I saw him put down his 'will whatver for food' sign and casually mosey towards the car..then he jumped and grabbed the handle for the back door, trying to get in.

    only red light I've ever run, with the lad trying in vain to hang on to the door handle. A GTI does accelerate fairly well in sport mode.

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