Caught on camera: Pregnant beggar with boy drives off in a Mercedes Benz

Viewer followed them to new location

SAN DIEGO - An outraged viewer contacted Team 10 after she watched a pregnant woman and a boy beg for money in a shopping center and then drive away in a Mercedes Benz.

Melissa Smith took pictures of the beggar, the boy and the Benz.

Smith said she saw the pregnant panhandler and the boy, who might have been the woman's son, at Eastlake Village Center every weekend for two months. She said the woman's husband or boyfriend would join them on the weekends.

Smith said the woman held a cardboard sign that said "please help" on the front.

"Lots of people gave them money," Smith said. "Probably five people in five minutes gave them money."

Smith said she was getting gas when she saw the couple at the usual spot in the plaza.

"I noticed they grabbed their little boy and they got into a Mercedes Benz," Smith said. "I thought, 'Wow, a Mercedes Benz. It's not even used -- it's not old. It's a new Benz.'"

RELATED: WATCH: Man confronts panhandler driving 2013 Fiat

Smith said she stopped pumping gas, got into her own car and drove away.

"Lo and beyond they were in front of us," she said. "Here they are counting money, laughing and their little boy is not in a car seat or seat belt. He's all the way in the front seat with them."

Smith said she took pictures on the car and license plate and watched them drive to another shopping plaza on Bonita Road.

"They drive down to the other McDonald's," Smith said. "She sits there with the sign. He goes and parks the Mercedes. Not less than five minutes here she is getting money from all these people."

Smith took additional pictures of the woman and little boy asking for money at the new location.

"I'm going to take these photos so I can show my friends so they don't give them their money. They don't need it. They are driving a Benz," said Smith.

She said the woman saw her taking the pictures and started yelling at Smith to stop.

"Next thing I know, she picked up this big boulder," Smith said, "I don't know if pregnant people can do that. She puts it over her head and starts coming at me with this rock."

A witness called 911 and Chula Vista police responded.

"She grabs her little boy, takes off through the parking lot. The cop was coming up as she was leaving," said Smith.

A Chula Vista Police Department spokesman told Team 10 they did respond, but the couple had left. Smith gave police the license plate number and all the details.

Team 10 ran the license plate number and it came back registered to a woman with an Encinitas apartment complex address.

Residents said it costs $2,400 a month to live at the complex.

They also said the people Team 10 were looking for had recently moved, and a forwarding address could not be obtained.

Smith said she wants people to know about this couple before they find a new place to panhandle with the boy, whom she believes may be their son.

"He's running in a parking lot instead of a park," Smith said. "What kind of parent uses their child for monetary gain?"

Police said the woman has not been reported by anyone else since Smith's run-in.

Homeless advocates say you shouldn't give people money, but there are plenty of things you can do.

If you're downtown, donate to the Make Change Count donation stations located throughout the area. Click here for more information and donation locations. 

Donate gently used items to thrift stores that support programs to help the homeless such as Father Joe's Villages, Salvation Army, San Diego Rescue Mission, Brother Benno -- and shop there too.

Volunteer your time at a shelter or soup kitchen. Here are some ideas: San Diego Rescue Mission, Brother Benno, Third Avenue Charitable Organization, Urban Angels.

Donate money or items to organizations that help the homeless.

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