Delray Beach police issue warnings to panhandlers claiming to collect money for football program

Panhandlers claiming to support football team

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - A picture taken Monday afternoon shows streetside salesmen making their pitch at the intersection of Linton Boulevard and Military Trail.

"In this neighborhood everybody is trying to help each other," said Bob Dimezza of Delray Beach. "Everyone is trying to do the right thing."

Dimezza has given them five bucks a few times, against his better judgment.

"I realized it afterwards with the cardboard signs and no names on their shirts, I figured something was going on," said Dimezza.

The picture was taken yesterday by Stephanie Slater, Boynton Beach's public information officer.

Over the last few months, she'd seen them at numerous South County intersections.

"They look too old to be high school students and if they were part of a traveling football league, they wouldn't have to be out there every single day," said Slater.

Slater called Delray police, who came, interviewed the five-men and figured out they weren't representing any football camp.

The Broward County men - all in their twenties - were given warnings for solicitation without a permit.

Slater says it's a good example of what police stress all the time: be alert.

"I'm a civilian, I don't have police powers, but I do know when something seems suspicious," said Slater.

The group was nowhere to be seen today. The money they've taken is gone.

Dimezza says it's a lesson: The desire to help doesn't mean the story you're being told is true.

"Like somebody insulted my intelligence. It's pretty bad they did that," said Dimezza. "Not only myself, little old people that live in this neighborhood, they go by and give money they think is going to a good cause and really it's not going anywhere."

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