Posted by: talkjack | February 18, 2009

British car drivers bullied by gangs of professional beggars

The latest nuisance for car drivers in Coventry appears to be a new batch of organised street beggars who are working congested traffic routes. Car drivers waiting at traffic lights are being harassed for money whilst they are captive in stationary traffic.

I witnessed this on 17/02/09 whilst driving into Coventry City Centre from the east. Having driven inbound along Walsgrave Road at approx 09:15 I stopped at the traffic lights at the junction with Sky Blue Way and Gosford Street. As soon as the traffic lights changed to red, out leaped two street beggars into the slowing traffic. Not a safe thing to do, forcing drivers to brake harder than they anticipated so as to avoid hitting people.

There were two beggars: a black woman who did not speak, and a taller, unshaven man with lighter skin. He appeared to be in charge. He picked on lady car driver to my right. She had young children in the car with her, and looked scared as she shouted at him to stop messing with her car. He was smearing her windscreen, pretending to wash her car with a squeegee. The driver was waving her finger from side to side and telling him to stop. She looked petrified.  He carried on, looked up, saw the expression on her face and laughed out loud. He was smiling as he continued to interfere with her car, and appeared to be enjoying himself.

The guy looked rough and dangerous. He looked across at me, and I realised I was his next on his list.

I had my wife and children in the car. It is half term week and we needed to buy childrens footware so were going shopping. My wife was scared. I suggested she find her mobile phone in case he caused trouble, so she could take a photo for the police.

I certainly did not want this guy messing with my car, spoiling my vision by smearing my windscreen. I cleaned it last weekend. At the same time I was determined not to give in and encourage this sort of bully.

I wound down my driver’s window less than an inch ready to speak to him if I had to. As he finished smearing the other driver’s windscreen I heard the guy singing loudly. He seemed to be loving the sense of power.

Maybe its because I have been decorating and had my scruffs on. Maybe it’s because I am on a weeks holiday during half term to look after children and had taken the rare treat of not shaving that morning. I was looking scruffier than usual. As he started to walk towards my car I looked this walking nuisance in the eyes and said in a low steady voice ‘Don’t you dare’.

Lucky for me the guy laughed in my face, left my car unspoilt and moved on to his next victim behind me. He carried on singing as he picked on another lady driver with children in the car behind. From his singing I got the impression he is an immigrant. I could not identify the language but it was neither English nor Western European.

The lady driver behind me looked terrified and kept telling him top stop. Being hearing impaired, I have taken lip reading classes, which helped as I watched through my rear view mirror. As the guy moved on to his third victim I could see him laughing at the terrified expressions on drivers faces. He managed to smear a third car before the lights changed and everyone drove away from him faster than normal.

When I returned three hours later, driving in the opposite direction I observed that the pair were still there. Looks like they had been working the traffic all morning, preying on intimidated car drivers for money. Would you have given them any money in order to stop them damaging your car?

Last night I mentioned the incident whilst socialising. One guy said he had seen a couple fitting this description working the junction of Binley Road and Gulson Road, which is a short walk away from the place I saw them. Another guy, a cyclist, said that he has seen these two predators working the same junction previously. He has also seen an older woman working the traffic queues on Stoney Stanton Road. She too does not speak English. Her technique to get money from captive car drivers is to bang on the driver’s side window and wave a cup in their faces whilst ranting something unintelligible.

This practice is patently dangerous. Smearing a driver’s windscreen could easily cause a road traffic incident further down the road, especially if the driver feels too scared of these bullies to stop his car nearby and clean the grime off – assuming he has something suitable with him to wipe the windscreen clean.

How long will it be before they pick on the wrong driver and he gets out and starts a fight in order to protect his car? Maybe that it why the guy was mostly picking on scared lady drivers. How long will it be before someone brakes sharply to avoid these idiots when the jump out into traffic, causing the vehicle behind to rear-end them?

For what it’s worth I have now reported this to the police via the internet. I have to wonder though, why the authorities are not stopping these people from intimidating drivers for money? After all, it turns out to be common knowledge among my friends. The pair I saw seemed to be organised and well practised.

If anyone in authority is reading this – please protect the public before these organised street beggars cause a collision. Come to think of it, can we have another Operation Shopcote please?

… Talkjack

>>> Update 29th March 2009

This squeegee mugger is back in action again a month later. He has now become more aggressive in his bullying of car drivers. You can see the fear on the face of motorists as he messes with their cars, ignores their pleas for him to stop and leave them alone, and demands money from them. He has even taken to stepping out in front of moving vehicles, causing them to swerve or stop, and to throwing dirty water at the windscreens of cars who drive past him, which is very dangerous and likely to cause an accident on day!

Why have the authorities allowed this professional begger to terrorise people and demand money with menaces from terrified car drivers? In the land of spy cameras that is Britain, why are the authorities turning a blind eye to this threat to public safety?

I will let you know if I hear that Coventry police take positive action to protect us.

(c) Copyright Talkjack 2009


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