Aggressive panhandler concerns police

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

June 21, 2011 at 1:21 a.m.

A Victoria man is banned from area stores on suspicion of aggressive panhandling and frightening customers.

Victoria Police Department senior patrol officer Jef Strauss responded to Johnny Carino's restaurant Friday after a woman reported feeling threatened.

Strauss said the man aggressively approached the woman from his vehicle before she entered the restaurant, then waited for her to come out.

Anonymous tips have been coming in to the station for several weeks about a 32-year-old man driving a red sport-utility vehicle, confronting them for money.

The man exhibits odd behavior, often pounding on his steering wheel and displaying signs of aggression toward the individuals he solicits, scaring those he confronts, Strauss said.

"He's never actually done anything to hurt them, but he makes them uncomfortable and makes them think he might," Strauss said. "He apparently hollers and screams at people. It's just odd behavior."

Because the man, whose name is not being released by police because he is not charged with a crime, has not technically broken the law, Strauss said he isn't able to arrest him.

"He hasn't actually crossed the line to do anything illegal," Strauss said.

But since Friday's incident, Victoria police have visited with larger retail businesses in the area, including the Victoria Mall, Walmart, Lowe's and Kohls. Each has agreed to sign a trespassing warning for the man, banning him from inside and outside of their property.

The trespassing order now allows patrons, or passers-by to report him to the police, who would be able to arrest him for criminal trespassing.

"We'll come round him up," Strauss said.

Strauss said the man is not homeless and lives in Victoria with his parents.



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