Fraudulent beggar back on street
A beggar convicted of fraud because he was holding a sign asking for money for ‘‘food and shelter’’ is out of prison and back on the streets with the same sign and says he has no plans to stop.
These days Frank Lovich, 53, can be found sitting in central Napier holding his cardboard sign seeking donations.
He is one of five Napier beggars facing charges of soliciting for money or breaching city bylaws.
Lovich, who has more than 300 low-level criminal convictions, has amassed five charges of soliciting for money since being released from prison about a month ago.
While Lovich is yet to enter a plea, the other beggars intend to defend the charges.
Lovich claimed he had to beg because Work and Income had delayed starting a benefit and he could not find a job.
‘‘I won’t get a job with my background, full stop. I’ve spent 35 years in jail. As soon as employers find out I’ve been in jail it’s over. They don’t even give you a chance,’’ he said.
‘‘The system’s failed me big time,’’ he said.
He said that once he got his benefit payment he may find a place to live, but may continue begging.
He said he earned ‘‘something like’’ $50 a day begging in Napier: ’’Not much, but it’s enough to keep me going for food’’.
The prospect of returning to jail didn’t bother him.
‘‘It’s like home,’’ he said. In February Lovich pleaded guilty to a raft of charges related to begging, including fraud.
Police laid the fraud charge because he was begging with a sign saying he needed money for food and shelter but he was paid a benefit of $380 a week and had a home in Hastings.
The Ministry of Social Development could not discuss details of Lovich’s case but Regional Commissioner East Coast, Annie Aranui, said the ministry worked with all people applying for financial assistance to assess their correct entitlements.
Sergeant Nigel Hurley of the Hawke’s Bay community policing team said a number of people in Napier had continued to beg after being asked to stop and warned by police.
‘‘The first step is always to fairly inform people that it is illegal to be in Napier. Following the warnings, some of these men have continued to ask for money and now been charged with this offence,’’ he said.
He said police are working closely with a number of agencies and individuals to provide support and assistance to these people.
‘‘The most effective way for members of the public to assist these vulnerable people is to firstly, not give them money, as they may use this to purchase drugs and not food or drink,’’ Hurley said.
‘‘Many people and agencies are providing them with food and drink already throughout the day.
‘‘Secondly, if you wish to give money, it is a better idea to donate it to one of the services helping them,’’ he said.
Frank Lovich back begging in central Napier after his release from prison. He says he gets about $50 a day.