Authorities from Bountiful to Kearns are investigating reports that a woman has gone door-to-door during the past several weeks pleading for money to help her sick child.

"We've had reports of her hitting all over the place," said Officer Dave Ward of the Salt Lake City Police crime prevention unit.The woman, described as Hispanic and in her early 30s, asks only for a few dollars but may have approached hundreds of homes.

"I'd be willing to bet she needs the money for a drug habit or something," said Salt Lake Police spokesman Marty Vuyk. "It's very difficult this time of year to say no to someone who is asking for help."

Bountiful police say the suspect spent a few days in that city, and they've prepared a composite drawing of the woman to distribute to other police departments.

The problem is a common one this time of year, said Bountiful Police Chief Larry Higgins, as people's hearts are softened by the holiday season.

"People just need to make certain it's a legitimate source they're giving money to," he said. "If it's an off-the-wall thing like this woman, I'd check into it."

People would be better off referring the woman, or any questionable solicitor, to a local church or community resource center. "Or send them to the police," Higgins said. "If it's a legitimate need, we can often help."

Salt Lake City resident Ken Gun-run said he gave the woman $10 when she showed up on his porch and "pleaded and cried and carried on and wrung her hands and shuffled."

When he mentioned her to his neighbors, they reported having similar experiences.

"She really put on an act," Gunrun said. "The problem is, if she gets the money some of the other groups that really need it won't get it."