SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A traveling group of scam artists visited Springfield this weekend, standing on the side of the road with children and asking for money. The Springfield Police Department posted to Facebook, reminding people to not give money without knowing the cause.
“They were just in town to take advantage of the kindness of Springfield,” said Cris Swaters with SPD.
Officers responded to six different intersections around Springfield where this group was seen.
“People who are legitimately seeking help, we don’t typically see people with kids out in the median putting those kids at risk,” Swaters said. “Those who are legitimately seeking help use the resources that are available in the community.”
“We definitely have families in the city that are unsheltered with their children,” said Connecting Grounds Pastor Christie Love. “But in all of the work that we’ve done and all the outreach work that we do on the street, I don’t see parents that fly signs with their kids who are in genuine need. That just doesn’t happen very often.”
Love says only 26 percent of the homeless population in Springfield panhandle.
“It is important to keep in mind that we have two different issues and let’s not just label everybody that’s flying a sign in our city as people that are trying to take advantage of a situation,” Love said.
No one from this group was arrested and no citations were made.
“Officers have discretion when they’re called out or when they see individuals who are out there looking for help, they have some discretion to evaluate the situation,” Swaters said. “And in the case this weekend, the individuals identified as being from out of town so officers took the opportunity to educate them on what the ordinance is.”
Some of the ways Love says you can help those in need is by donating to places that offer shelter and other resources to the homeless, like the Connecting Grounds, Rare Breed and the Youth Connect Center.