DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Some businesses in downtown Durham are calling for action from the city after they said they have had to deal with aggressive panhandlers harassing their customers on a regular basis. 

At Thursday afternoon’s Durham City Council work session, several businesses and community members voiced their concerns to councilmembers about these panhandlers and how they are causing them to lose customers and revenue.  

Elizabeth Rainwater is the general manger of Bull McCabes, a restaurant in downtown Durham. She said it’s a group of about 10 panhandlers who are constantly causing problems at her business. 

“One time someone held a woman’s car door shut, and wouldn’t let her get to her kids until she paid him,” Rainwater said “They will also take the food off of customers plates, and some will pull their pants down and expose their genitalia to kids and women.” 

Seth Gross owns Bull City Burger and Brewery and Pompieri Pizza. He said they are also dealing with the same issues. 

“This issue is rapidly getting out of control,” Gross said. “I’ve watched one guy drop his pants, urinate on a full patio of guests, while exposing himself at the same time.” 

Just last weekend, he said a panhandler punched one of his employees. 

“We know the solution isn’t to lock everyone up, these people need addiction help and mental health help, we get that,” Gross said. “But we don’t have a better alternative. Instead, we’re allowing people to commit crimes.” 

Durham City Councilman Leonardo Williams said the city is planning to meet with the county and the District Attorney’s office to discuss how to address this problem.  

“I do want you to know this council hears you and this council will respond,” Williams said. 

As for the businesses, they said something needs to be done about this as soon as possible. 

“We don’t want to lose our customers, every time these things happen, I never see those customers again, they never step foot in our business again,” Rainwater said. “As a result, we’re losing revenue for the city.” 

These businesses and community members are asking for more of a police presence downtown. CBS 17 reached out to Durham Police to see if they plan to have more patrols downtown, but we are still waiting to hear back.