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:
- 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.
- You may feel unable to drive away with a door open for safety reasons, giving him longer to pressure you for money.
- 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.