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Holiday season can lead to scam artists soliciting at local traffic intersections

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTBS) -

'Tis the season of giving and that means groups may be soliciting at busy intersections across Shreveport.

One of those is a group that calls themselves the Shreveport Restoration Ministry House of Hope.

"We help people with drug and alcohol problems as a living ministry," says Renaudo Jones.

Jones and his organization have been hitting city street corners lately to spread the word and ask for donations, though when one member saw the KTBS 3 News camera today, she ordered everyone to pack up and leave.

Reporter: Are you guys leaving?

Member: Yeah.

Reporter: How come?

Member: I don't know.

Jones says that's because they often get safety complaints when they're at intersections, but that they're working for a good cause.

"This is a Christian recovery. It's like an in-patient rehab, except we're faith-based."

Member Judy Jones says they're just starting up in this area, so there's no physical location for the rehabn just yet, though she says the ministry has been in existence for 35 years.

Their permit is registered to 'Restoration Houston Ministry', which according to its website, provides rehabilitation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And they're just one of many organizations that may be soliciting on city streets during the holidays, though to do it legally, you must have a permit.

"If you're going to be out soliciting, first of all, have a permit, and wear reflective clothing if you're going to be in the intersections," says Cpl. Marcus Hines, with the Shreveport Police Dept.

In fact, City Ordinances 139 and 152, Sec. 42-325 require anyone who's soliciting on public streets to wear a traffic safety vest, and have the name of the organization clearly identified for motorists.

The organization's permit will also have the approved locations - and time of day - that members may be out.

And Shreveport Restoration Ministry says they understand some people reservations about donating.

"We're not lying to anybody. We're letting them know what we're doing," Judy Jones says.

Shreveport Police don't suggest asking to see an organization's permit at an intersection, as this can hold up traffic and create a safety hazard.

Instead, residents are always encouraged to research any group to which they're considering donating.

If anyone claiming to be with an organization approaches you in traffic and demands you give them money, immediately report that to police.

A permit to solicit funds on public streets can be obtained from the Shreveport Police Department and the organization must provide a tax exempt 501(c) statement proving charitable status, though churches aren't required to present that statement.

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