Sharjah Police have arrested a beggar who made Dh44,000 in the first 20 days of Ramadan.
The force said that it had so far arrested 94 people – 65 men and 29 women – in its annual begging drive during the holy month.
“One [beggar] was found with more than Dh44,000 in cash he made from begging while another had Dh12,000,” said Lt Col Mohammad bin Tlaiaa, head of the anti-begging team at Sharjah Police.
“We found that international transfers have been made by some of the arrested offenders. Cash was also found with others.”
Police in the emirate launched their anti-begging drive – Begging is a Crime and Giving is a Responsibility – on the first day of Ramadan.
Patrols were increased across the emirate at places usually frequented by beggars and people were urged to report them by calling 901 or 80040.
“Most of those who were arrested came to the country on visit visas while a few are residents who were trying to exploit people’s spirit of giving during Ramadan,” Lt Col Tlaiaa said.
“Begging increases during specific occasions, including Ramadan, with most beggars found near shopping centres, mosques and residential areas.”
Legal action has been taken against offenders.
Sharjah Police arrested 1,409 beggars during Ramadan over the past couple of years.
“More than Dh500,000 was recovered from people who were arrested in the past,” Lt Col Tlaiaa said.
He urged the public to help the police by donating to registered charities.
Begging is illegal in the UAE, with penalties of up to three months in prison and a Dh5,000 fine if caught.
Harsher punishments will be given to those who are found to be in good health or trying to take advantage of people's goodwill.
Those found to be running networks of beggars and exploiting people with special needs can face a minimum of six months in jail and a fine of at least Dh100,000.
On Thursday, Dubai Police arrested a man in Deira for charging people Dh1 to use his weighing scale. "This is a form of begging," they said in a media statement.
In Ras Al Khaimah, police have arrested 50 beggars since the beginning of Ramadan this year.