A so-called ‘professional beggar’ has allegedly been pretending to be homeless and paralysed to get cash from passers-by.
Baker Kyle Smith claims that the unnamed man pretends to be unable to walk and not to have eaten for days to encourage people to give him money that he then allegedly spends on drugs.
Kyle, 24, says that the man, thought to be in his 40s, targets vulnerable pensioners for cash on a Derby high street then gives the money to an accomplice who hides around the corner.
He claims that a rough sleeper told him the pair use the cash to fund their addiction to Mephedrone or M-CAT, a Class B drug that was formerly a ‘legal high’.
According to the 24-year-old, the man isn’t homeless but lives in a council house and rides a mobility scooter to keep up the appearance of being unable to walk.
Kyle said: “It’s wrong when he’s asking so many people, especially OAPs because they feel like they have to [give him money].
“When he got a number of donations, he would ride around the corner down a back alley and give the cash to his friend. It was both coins and notes and looked like a nice amount.
“Fair enough if someone genuinely is homeless, but it is winding me up when it is so wrong when he is getting loads of money.”
He said he plans to tell the man he has been rumbled when he sees him and said his manager had tried to contact police.
The Cathedral Quarter of the city, where the man is allegedly begging, is not currently owned or overseen by anyone until bidding starts next month, so representatives were unable to provide a comment.
A spokesperson for Derbyshire Police said they were not aware of the individual that Kyle had witnessed.
The spokesperson said: “There is a misconception that many people who are seen begging in Derby are homeless.
“The reality is that many have access to food, accommodation, clothing and are in receipt of benefits but turn to begging to boost their finances.
“Many of those who appear to be homeless lead chaotic lifestyles usually driven by alcohol or drug addiction and so this is where most of the money collected through begging is spent.”