The arrest came after a Lake Forest homeless liaison officer patrolling the shopping centers off Lake Forest Drive and Rancho Parkway Jan. 27, encountered a homeless person asking for food, according to a Facebook post by Lake Forest police.
The officer approached the person to offer resources that could help him.
While talking to him, the officer discovered during a records check that the man was a registered sex offender and found that he was in possession of meth and drug paraphernalia.
Because the individual was lying about being a student in what may have been a ploy for increased donations, Lake Forest police urged the community to donate to charities that help homeless people instead of giving money directly to individuals.
“We understand residents are eager to help those in need,” police said in a social media post. “The City of Lake Forest encourages residents to give responsibly by donating to a charity that serves those experiencing homelessness rather than directly to the individual. “
Carrie Braun, public information officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which contracts its police services to the City of Lake Forest, said that while homelessness is not a law enforcement issue, they do utilize a homeless outreach team to try and help those experiencing homelessness.
She also noted that the advice to donate to charities assisting people experiencing homelessness instead of directly to homeless individuals commonly comes from nonprofits, not the sheriff’s department.
“I do believe we’ve seen a slight increase in our interactions with individuals experiencing homelessness, but I think it’s important to remember that homelessness is not a law enforcement issue,” Braun said. “So, we assist with individuals who are experiencing homelessness specifically through our homeless outreach team.”
Braun also told The Epoch Times that the individual was arrested specifically for being in possession of meth, not because he was pretending to be a student.