Police urged members of the public on Tuesday to be vigilant as professional beggars are roaming the streets taking advantage of the festive season.
On Monday alone police charged five peddlers during patrols in central areas of Nicosia for operating without a licence and for the deliberate obstruction of free passage of the public.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said that reports of peddlers and illegal fundraisers have increased lately due to the festive season.
“We are making islandwide checks. Citizens too must be vigilant and avoid giving money to these people,” Angelides said.
He added that peddlers and beggars either stand at traffic lights or go to parking lots and outside shops asking for money, or selling small items.
“There are also some who call people on land lines trying to convince them to give money to some charity, some even visit houses,” Angelides said. People, he added, must be aware that those authorised to carry out fundraisers have the written permission of either the interior ministry or of local authorities, while volunteers too must carry with them the authorisation given in their name.
“There are cases when peddlers are members of organised rings traveling from abroad, especially for the festive season,” he said.
On one occasion, Angelides said, officers arrested a man who was claiming he had mobility problems and was asking for money but who was seen during a stake out walking into a car and driving to another area where he again pretended he was disabled.
“On three occasions, there were minors involved in begging, which is very serious. We have informed the social welfare services,” Angelides said.
Volunteerism commissioner Yiannis Yiannaki too said in an announcement that members of the public should, before donating money to fundraisers, ask to see the licence obtained by the organisers.
When such documents are not available, he said, members of the public are urged to report such cases to help reduce illegal fundraising.