Aggressive panhandler caught on camera on 101 Fwy off-ramp

A local driver wants to warn others after he encountered an aggressive panhandler on a 101 Freeway off-ramp.

The driver captured the incident on video when the panhandler punched his window after he refused to give money.

"I was totally surprised, I just didn't know what to do," the driver, who didn't want to be identified, said. "I just wanted that light to turn green and to get out of there."

The incident happened Tuesday evening on the southbound Tampa exit off the 101 freeway.

The driver started recording after he said the panhandler first kicked his car at the top of the offramp.

"He was working his way back down and caught me off guard," he said. "That's when I was a sitting duck."

FOX 11 tried to track down the panhandler at the location of the incident, but he wasn't there.

Police said some panhandlers can make good money at a freeway off-ramp.

"They'll make two to three hundred bucks an hour and go feed into their addiction and buy the drugs that they want," Ofc. Daryl Scoggins, LAPD, said.

Officer Daryl Scoggins knows the man in the video through his dealings with the local homeless population.

"If somebody is being so aggressive panhandling that you fear for your safety and feel compelled to give them money it's actually a robbery," Scoggins said.

But police said there's little officers can do about the bigger problem since a law that changed three years ago prevents police for citing the homeless on state property.

Scoggins said the best thing people can do to discourage the panhandling is not to give money.

"It's ok to feel sorry for them, I feel sorry for them," Scoggins, said. "But if you want to give them money give it to you local food banks and your charities that are doing homeless outreach."

The driver shared the video with FOX 11 because he wanted others to be aware.