Police discover that the man holding onto this stop sign near Knecht Street Wednesday is a registered sex offender from Santa Fe. The woman said they came to Los Alamos to ask people for money for gas to get to Colorado Springs. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladaillypost.com
Someone inside this truck gives money to the panhandlers Wednesday near Knecht Street. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladaillypost.com
Unlike larger cities, it’s rare to see people standing on street corners in Los Alamos holding up signs and asking for money from passing motorists.
So news spread quickly Wednesday when a couple was spotted panhandling at the edge of Smith’s Marketplace parking lot near Knecht Street.
“We received several calls reporting the couple,” Los Alamos Police Cdr. Oliver Morris said. “In checking them out, we discovered that the man is a registered sex offender in Santa Fe.”
The woman told the Los Alamos Daily Post that her name is Sarah Bentley.
“We are from Santa Fe and came to Los Alamos to ask people for money for a couple of tanks of gas to get to Colorado Springs where there’s a job waiting for me,” Bentley said.
Morris explained that Los Alamos does not currently have an ordinance against panhandling but there is an ordinance against interfering with pedestrians or traffic.
Smith’s Marketplace received several complaints Wednesday from customers saying the couple was being aggressive, so the store requested a no trespass order against them. Police advised the couple of the order and told them they were not allowed to come back onto Smith’s property so long as the order was in effect.
Morris said the couple drove away without incident.
Los Alamos County Attorney Rebecca Ehler explained that when the County Criminal Code was reviewed in the fall of 2013, the panhandling ordinance was removed because it was no longer constitutional. Ehler said her office is in the process of updating that ordinance now to ensure it complies with current law.