A BEGGAR gang earns £500 a day playing homeless people in a posh spa town.
A group of about ten men and women travel at lightning speed in a Mercedes and a bus to prey on the residents and visitors of Bath.
Members of a begging group collect money posing as homeless people in Bath Credit: Marc Giddings
A group of beggars travel from Bristol to Bath to harass tourists for cash Credit: Marc Giddings
Armed with almost identical cardboard signs, they take turns occupying prime spots in the city.
After eight hours of begging they go home to Bristol City Hall 12 miles away.
Police believe they may be being exploited by organized crime groups who force them to hand over their income.
Officers are limited in what they can do, but they can relocate people suspected of anti-social behavior – order them not to return for 48 hours – and also issue fines.
However, all fines that are imposed often remain unpaid.
The Sun watched the gang from Bath as they carried out scams in the city – famous for its abbey, Roman baths and Georgian architecture.
One put his designer leather bag behind him, kicked off his shoes and sat on a blanket as people walked past him.
At lunchtime, two women, one pregnant, relaxed on a bench in the warm sun.
They were joined by two beggars and a third man in trendy glasses, denim jacket and jeans who was not seen joining the begging.
Later, we saw a gang member drive off in a blue Mercedes with personalized plates.
Three others took the X-39 bus to the center of Bristol, followed by two men and two women on another bus.
Police estimate that “professional beggars” can earn more than £50 a day.
This means the gang could earn £500 a day – £10,000 a month – or more if they go out at weekends and in the evenings.
They believe many of the regular beggars in central Bath who claim to be homeless are earning more than workers by asking for a better nature from the public.
An official Big Issue seller in the city said: “They are taking money from real homeless people.
“I see people put 20 pounds in their lap and walk right past me.
“It’s not right.
“The police should do something.”
Bath Police said they are working with the council to tackle street begging and ensure those in genuine need are offered help.
A spokeswoman said: “We have taken people to court who have taken advantage of the goodwill of residents and visitors by begging and claiming to be homeless, despite being housed and receiving benefits.
“Officers are concerned that vulnerable people are being exploited by organized crime groups who are bussing them to beg in busy city centers across the country, including Bath, and forcing them to hand over their income.
“Police recommend that if you want to help people in need, you give to charities that offer support services, not to individuals.”
In March, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced plans to introduce legislation to prevent begging from causing a “public nuisance” and targeting gangs behind bars.
Bath Police said they were working with the council to tackle street beggingCredit: Marc Giddings
Official Big Issue seller in Bath said of the gangs: ‘They are taking money from real homeless people’ Credit: Marc Giddings
Begging gangs could be earning up to £500 a day Credit: Marc Giddings
Two beggars from Bristol were filmed on their way back from Bath. Credit: Marc Giddings
Picked up in a shiny Merc
ONE gang member positioned himself outside Timpson — before later leaving in a Mercedes.
He wore a black puffa jacket, jeans and a cap – despite the balmy 22C in the sun – and took a mat out of his rucksack to cover his legs.
One gang member was caught outside Timpson’s. Credit: Marc Giddings
The beggar later left the scene in a Mercedes
He then placed a pre-made cardboard sign and a Costa coffee cup in front of him.
After a few hours of collecting money, he left and got into a flashy blue Mercedes with personalized plates.