LOS ANGELES– Some homeless people in Los Angeles are growing desperate amid the coronavirus outbreak and have resorted to shoplifting at grocery stores to make up for their drop in panhandling money during the statewide shelter in place order, a report said.
TMZ, citing several grocery store employees in the city, reported that the homeless tend to grab fresh produce positioned at the front of the store due to the quick escape route. The situation has reportedly gotten so bad, store managers at some of these locations have been given the personal phone numbers for LAPD officers in the area.
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Los Angeles has become something of a ghost town. Flagship clothing stores on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills are closed and the tourist foot traffic in Santa Monica and Venice are also greatly diminished. Homeless that once benefited from a generous passerby has seen those donations dry up.
Large cities like Los Angeles and New York have the unique problem of trying to contain the coronavirus while managing their homeless populations. The Associated Press pointed out that there are about 150,000 homeless in California and about 60,000 in Los Angeles.
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The U.S. has over 51,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and reported 674 deaths. There are 541 cases in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times. Santa Clara County reported at least one coronavirus-related death of a homeless person, the AP reported. Los Angeles has no known cases in the homeless community. City officials worry that many homeless
Eric Garcetti, the city’s mayor, said the Red Cross is setting up 6,000 emergency beds at centers across Los Angeles, according to KTVU.
Los Angeles has been working with city outreach workers who come into close contact with the homeless on a daily basis. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released a video that went over the basics: Keep a safe distance between yourself and others; wash your hands frequently.
Eric Montoya, an outreach worker, told the paper that he is aware of the risks.
“I try not to think about the risk of getting infected myself,” he said. “If God wants me to die from the coronavirus, so be it. What can I do? I need to help these people.”