• Pawns for panhandling? KIRO 7 investigates

    By: Dave Wagner

    Updated:

    A six-month KIRO 7 investigation shines a light on women panhandling with children on downtown Seattle streets. While panhandling is prolific, using children as part of the plea is a more recent phenomenon.  

    "I've not seen this before," said Washington Department of Youth, Children and Families Secretary Ross Hunter. KIRO 7 showed Secretary Hunter months of surveillance video where women with children are begging for hours. All of them hold signs that say they need cash for food, motels or rent. See Dave Wagner's the full investigation in the video above.

    KIRO 7 has documented the women working in tandem. Our undercover cameras followed two women with children as they counted their cash before heading home.

    "I watch the vans drive around and pick them up and drop them off," said Cody Snow. 

    In one instance, a concerned pedestrian confronted one of the women because her child was not moving and would not wake up.  

    "I felt like the kid was in peril," the pedestrian said, who called Child Protective Services. "The child was totally flaccid. There was no movement from this kid at all and that's when I decided, it was like my mother bear instinct kicked in.".  

    After watching video of the confrontation, Secretary Hunter told KIRO 7, "I agree that's concerning. It's hard to imagine a baby doesn't wake up and I will go look into it."
     


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