SAN DIEGO, CA - A woman in San Diego says she saw a pregnant woman begging for money drive off in a Mercedes Benz. She's got photos of the woman in action. So, what gives?
Melissa Smith said she saw a pregnant pan-handler and her son at Eastlake Plaza every weekend. She held a cardboard sign that read, "Please help." Plenty of people did.
Smith said she was getting gas when she saw the couple at the usual spot.
"They were leaving and I noticed they got into a Mercedes Benz, I thought wow - a Mercedes Benz?" said Melissa Smith. She shook her head and got in her car to drive away. "Lo and beyond, they were in front of us. And here they are counting money, laughing, their little boy is not in a car seat or seat belt. He's all the way in the front seat with them."
Smith watched them drive to another plaza on Bonita road.
"She sits there with the sign. He goes and parks the Mercedes. And they put up the sign and not less than five minutes, here she is getting money from all these people." said Melissa Smith.
She took pictures of the woman and little boy. Then the woman saw her.
"Next thing I know, she picks up this big boulder about this big, goes over her head. I don't know if pregnant people can do that? But it was pretty big over her head and coming at me with this rock." said Melissa Smith
Another witness saw the whole thing and called 911. Police told KGTV they did respond but the couple had left.
Smith gave KGTV the license plate number too. The TV station ran the plates, the car came back belonging to a woman. Her address was at an apartment complex in Encinitas. There was no answer when reporters came knocking. A woman called back but said she had just moved in. The people living there had picked up and left.
Smith said she wants people to know about this couple before they find a new place to panhandle with their son in tow.
"I feel bad, don't give these people money, they don't need it, they're driving a Benz!" said Melissa Smith.
Homeless advocates recommend not giving money directly to people. Instead, they say it's better to donate money, gently used clothes or volunteer time to reputable charity organizations, such as thrift shops, shelters or soup kitchens.