Apr 22, 2013 6:25 PM by Janine Reyes
CORPUS CHRISTI -- In January, we told you about the panhandling problem some business owners are facing, and it still persisting for some.
The Seawall Restaurant owner Howard Urick says when he called police just last week, the officer did not arrest a repeat offender and without police help, his hands are tied to stop the panhandling problem.
Urick opened his restaurant two years ago. He loves selling food, drinks and fun on the backdrop of the beach. What he didn't sign up for, though, is the panhandlers pestering his customers.
"The warmer it gets, they'll start coming out of the shelter and sleeping under the patio or under the stairs," he said. It's a problem when they refuse to leave and harass his customers.
"You've got tourists with young kids, and it makes it difficult, it makes it difficult to conduct a business," said Urick.
In January, we found Susan Benson on his property. She admitted to prior arrests for panhandling. "So many, quite a few times, one criminal trespass ended up with time in the slammer," Benson told us.
Urick has not seen her back since, but, he's now seen plenty of Coleen McHugh. He called police in January, March and again just last week. "She sat down demanding drinks and demanding cigarettes and wouldn't leave the facility," said Urick.
He keeps track in a binder that keeps growing bigger, each page representing a criminal trespass warning issued by police.
Once it's violated officers can arrest the problem person and charge them with a Class B Misdemeanor. Last week, the officer did not.
"I know its inconvenient for them, they've got better things to do, but its hard to conduct business," he said. "Did it frustrate you that they didn't pick her up," we asked. "Yes," he replied, "because the last two officers that had picked her up said just keep calling us, keep calling us."
Urick says he'll continue to do his part and call police when there is a problem, but without enforcement from officers, his hands are tied and at the end of the day, it makes Corpus Christi look bad.
"You don't want that image of Corpus Christi," Urick said, "We want to be family friendly, we want them to enjoy the beach, come and go, have a good time."
He says he's sure he'll see Mchugh back on his property, but hopes next time police put her back behind bars.
We checked McHugh's records in Nueces County. She's been convicted of criminal trespassing 5 times since last year. She also has a conviction here for resisting arrest.