Part II: KMVT Reporter Becomes A Panhandler


By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) For many of us, interaction with panhandlers hasn't gone much farther than casual conversation after donating money or food. Not often do we see what a panhandler experiences firsthand...until now. In Part Two of Undercover Panhandling, through a disguise, we show you what panhandling is actually like.

"I feel like a lepper."

Pacing down a median at the intersection of Fillmore and Cheney in Twin Falls...I spent most of the lunch hour one fine day this fall...panhandling.

Almost all of the motorists drove by and I expected that. Never did I leave the sidewalks and run into the street or pound on their window.
But I did make an impact on a few.

– "God bless."
- "Thank you very much."

When someone stopped, I felt a rush, like a moment of acceptance or relief that they believed I was indeed homeless.

See, earlier that morning I went to Poindexter's Costume and Novelty Shop. With a new wardrobe, a little theater make–up, and of course a wig....I transformed from Brittany Cooper, the journalist to Jane Doe, the homeless mother–to be. They also created a cardboard sign for effect.

Sure, I am neither homeless nor pregnant, but that's the chance you take when you donate to someone or a cause that you're not familiar with. Lack of information often ties into businesses and citizens becoming the victims of fraud.

Officer Dan Heil, Twin Falls Police Department says, "you run into the realm of fraud when it's someone running a scam, asking for money for a child who is sick or a fundraiser that doesn't exist, that gains lots of money. That's more in the realm of fraud where police officers will act."

My seven dollars in donations won't raise any eyebrows with law enforcement...

Heil adds, "in this incidence where it's a dollar here, quarter there, it's not something prosecutors will do anything at this time."

But what I am in violation of...the honesty policy.

- "My wig is itchy."

- "Thank you, you too."

An experience I will never forget and never imitate.

Side Note: I ended up donating the money to Salvation Army and Valley House Homeless Shelter.

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