For the last three years before I "retired", I worked mostly as the ground man on a 65' bucket truck repairing parking lot lighting, signs, etc. It was an easy job most of the time that paid well and I was glad to have a no brainer (for the most part) job at the end of my career. I got to where I could spot panhandlers coming just by their mannerisms. Most of them I headed off by asking them for money before they could ask me, that worked most of the time.
We did monthly maintenance on the aging 55' - 1000 watt metal halide parking lot lights at a place named International Mall near Tampa International Airport. International Mall has 4 entrances consisting of 2 main entrances at either end of the parking lot and 2 sub entrances in the middle. International Mall is a mall for the rich and wealthy. It is very common to see $500,000++ cars in the parking lot mixed with the lowly $100,000 cars.
Every time we would go to that mall for maintenance, we would use the west entrance with dual turn lanes into the mall. Every time there was a skinny black man of about 50 years old that would walk the turn lane island with a cardboard sign that usually said "Please Help".
One day we were working on lights at that entrance when he approached us asking for a water, which I gave him. We started talking and after about 5 minutes, I asked him how much money he made every day working that entrance. What he told me was astounding. On normal days, he made anywhere from $150 to $250 daily for the 3 hours he "worked". During the Christmas season he would make $500 to $750 daily for the 3 hours he "worked". That's all CASH...free and untaxed. When he finished "working" he would walk about a block down the street, away from the mall, and drive off in a fairly new upper end black Cadillac.
I've watched other panhandlers get into similar vehicles and drive away.
Most of the ones that would approach me in the parking lots were on foot and always had some pre-concocted sob story that was too intricate to be close to being true. I always loved the ones who came walking up to me begging for money...with a cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other. This being a family type forum prevents me from revealing what my words were to these people.
I won't give panhandlers money or anything else to support them or their drug/alcohol addiction.