Persistent panhandler at Oceanside's Target store - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Persistent panhandler at Oceanside's Target store

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OCEANSIDE (CBS 8) - Customers and employees of an Oceanside Target store are fed up with a man who spends hours panhandling outside of the store.

Because the Target shares the parking lot with other stores and restaurants, the area where the man sits and collects cash is considered public.

Thomas Raasio is 68-year-old spends most of his time outside Oceanside's Target holding out his hand collecting money. That is in addition to receiving his Social Security check.

He said he does not want a job. "I am retired and I don't want a job, thank you," he said.

Why has Raasio not been hauled away from the spot for good?

"They've called the police multiple times and they give him a piece of paper and he just puts it into a folder he has and he like just files it and laughs and just sits there laughing," said a Target employee. 

"All of that comes under freedom of speech and the courts have been pretty plain in their rulings on that this is a freedom of speech issue," said Lt. Leonard Cosby.

While asking people for money and claiming to be homeless is free speech, Oceanside police have nailed him with misdemeanors for loitering and blocking an entry.

It was either a $100 fine or community service. Raasio paid the $100 over the community service.

When he is not in front of the store asking for money, he spends time working on his YouTube channel and drinking Starbucks.

"If someone wants to give me something that's fine. If they don't that's fine. If I sit here and get nothing all day, that's fine," he said.

Target banned third party solicitors like the Salvation Army in 2004, but unless the store files a restraining order against him, Raasio can keep setting up shot in front of the store.

Target employees said Raasio's signs used to say he was a homeless vet, but he has made new ones claiming to have served three years in the Marine Corps.

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