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Panhandling takes an aggressive turn in Truro

A walk through downtown Truro is usually a pleasant experience. Experiences with an aggressive panhandler this spring left some people feeling uncomfortable.
A walk through downtown Truro is usually a pleasant experience. Experiences with an aggressive panhandler this spring left some people feeling uncomfortable. - Lynn Curwin

TRURO, NS

Panhandling has become relatively commonplace in Truro. For the most part it’s just accepted practice. People will offer some change, if they can and want to; others find it, at worst, a minor annoyance.

But a recent run-in with an aggressive panhandler prompted one woman to contact police.

Lisa Atkinson was driving along Prince Street in late May when a man tried to flag down her vehicle. She didn’t stop, however, he approached her after she parked farther along the street.

“He came over and asked for money, saying he needed money and he was in a hurry,” the Truro woman said. “He was very aggressive, and it made me feel unsafe.”

While she was downtown she saw the same man trying to get other motorists to pull over. That’s when she decided to alert police.

“There are people in need of money,” said Atkinson. “This man didn’t seem to be in duress, other than wanting money. That takes away from those who are really in need.”

She said she had never seen anyone behaving so aggressively while asking for money in Truro.

After she posted about her experience on Facebook, other people made comments about someone being extremely persistent in trying to get money.

Truro Police Sgt. Rob Hearn said there have been complaints about one person, in particular, who was being aggressive while panhandling, even getting very vocal if not given money. That person is now facing criminal charges.

“If people have any problems with people doing this, they should call us and report it,” he said. “In cases where someone is persistent, action can be taken for protection of property.”

He noted there is a town bylaw against loitering.

“I think they’ve done a great job with downtown Truro and I don’t like to see things like this ruin it,” added Atkinson. “Everyone should have the right to feel comfortable.”

lynn.curwin@trurodaily.com

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