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Fake beggars 'have homes and pocket more than £2,000 a month in benefits' while pretending to sleep rough

Beggars are pocketing more than £2,000 a month in benefits – while pretending to sleep rough on Britain’s streets.

Many towns have “prolific” vagrants that already have accommodation, despite giving the impression they are homeless.

They are said to be topping up their state hand-outs – which include housing benefits – by asking unassuming strangers for their spare change.

In recent years there has been a 70% spike nationally in prosecutions for begging.

And Freedom of information figures in 2014 found that of 1,002 people arrested for begging, only 199 were legally defined as homeless.

In Middlesbrough, the council has identified nine main beggars in the town who it says are all entitled to benefits – while most are not homeless.

“Despite the public’s misconception that the street beggars are homeless, eight out the nine have accommodation,” reads a report by the authority.

“All are entitled to receive benefits including Housing Benefit and many have been assessed by the Department of Working Pensions (DWP).

“Their individual circumstances often mean they are receiving upwards of £2,000 a month in benefits but are still choosing to generate additional income by begging.”

The authority states the “majority” of these are hooked on heroin.

In total, there are thought to be around 11 beggars in town at any one point – although it’s claimed there are fewer in the colder winter months.

Banning orders have been used to stop some entering certain areas, while others have already been slapped with Asbos for offences including begging.

Last week, Asbo-pest Stephen Crozier, of Kings Road, in North Ormesby, admitted begging, despite a court hearing he claims benefits and has a roof over his head, according to The Gazette .

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday the 50-year-old repeatedly flouted a begging ban.

A Cineworld security guard spotted him pestering people for cash on December 16, despite his Asbo preventing him from begging.

Crozier’s solicitor said he was begging because he’d run out of cash after his benefits had been paid too early.