However, some panhandlers have reportedly earned a far higher amount. In 2014, for example, a Sacramento couple were found by police to have made more than $350 in just two hours. In 2012, too, an Oklahoma panhandler reportedly told a police officer that he raked in as much as $60,000 over the course of a year.
But a 2001 study found that seven out of ten panhandlers in the city of Toronto would still prefer to do minimum-wage work over begging on the street. Researchers concluded that it was very rare for panhandlers to earn a huge amount and that the median income from panhandling was $300 per month.
So it’s easy to imagine Melissa Smith’s surprise when, as she was putting gas into her car, she spotted the pregnant panhandler and her partner getting into a Mercedes-Benz. “I thought, ‘Wow, a Mercedes-Benz?’” she said.