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Campus security warns about aggressive panhandlers

Belmont campus security is warning students about aggressive panhandlers around the university’s nearby streets.

Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham said that while the recent reports fall “below the threshold for a security alert,” he wants officers to share all information necessary to keep students safe.

In two recent reports students said they were harassed after offering money to a person. One scam frequently reported involves a male who asks for $40 through the Venmo app.

“The male sometimes says he left his wallet in his boyfriend’s vehicle. He sometimes says he left his wallet at home. Even though the male is in his 30s, he sometimes claims to be a student from another local university,” Cunningham said.

Campus security received reports of this same man by 15th Ave S. and Belmont Boulevard, and recent reports of aggressive panhandling have involved a four-door white Nissan sedan with a Tennessee license plate.

Although there is no “one size fits all,” Cunningham offers some general precautions for any students who find themselves in similar situations.

“Keep your head up and remain alert when walking. Trust your instincts. If something seems suspicious, go to a safe location and call security or the Metro Police. If someone appears to be trying to harass or intimidate you, go to a safe location and call security or the Metro Police.”

Cunningham notes that while panhandling on its own isn’t a security concern, it becomes one when students feel threatened and harassed.

“Let’s keep this focused on the aggressive people who continue to raid you or loom over you and are intimidating.”

Contributing reporting by Marissa Avnaim.

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