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49th: Prostitutes keep out

Some call prostitution a victimless crime. Not Joe Thompson. According to Thompson, prostitution on White Plains Road is a threat.

“You have girls, then you have drugs,” the 49th Precinct Community Council president said. “You have drugs, then you have fights.”

On Sunday, April 26, Thompson and Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta performed a late night patrol. At 2 a.m., the pair motored up White Plains Road. They spotted one possible prostitute between Arnow and Adee avenues.

“She was either a prostitute or a cop dressed like one,” Thompson said. “Standing there by herself.”

Six months ago, there were more prostitutes on White Plains Road; 49th Precinct officers made arrests near Allerton Avenue, Captain John Greeley said. During the cold weather, activity tends to dip. During warm weather, it tends to peak.

“We had girls there last summer and a male prostitute,” Thompson said. “Fortunately, [Greeley] is excellent. He has more officers out on foot patrol than ever before – Lydig, Morris Park, Allerton and Gun Hill Road.”

White Plains Road is established “night walker” territory. Years ago, a small army of prostitutes worked the street. Prostitution has become less prevalent borough-wide, although pockets near West Farms, St. James Park, Hunts Point, Jerome Avenue and E. 233rd Street remain.

In the past, officers dressed like prostitutes have seized cars and nabbed “johns,” the men who solicit sex.

“It’s an effective program,” Fratta said. “If you get rid of the johns, the hookers disappear.”

Greeley wouldn’t divulge specifics, but the 49th Precinct will launch an anti-prostitute operation soon. Greeley is aware of the activity near Allerton.

Edith Blitzer of the Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association has observed prostitutes on Lydig Avenue, she said. Blitzer hopes the 49th Precinct will target the street and go undercover. Prostitutes are tricky, Blitzer said. It’s easier to nab a drug dealer.

“We’re going to look at Lydig,” Greeley said.

According to Thompson, prostitution is similar to graffiti in that it brings down the neighborhood. File it under the Broken Windows theory.

“Nobody wants to live in a neighborhood full of prostitution and graffiti,” he said.

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