Oakland fights back against prostitution

Oakland’s tumultuous history with prostitution and sex crimes has prompted the city to step up enforcement.

Oakland police have boosted patrols and increased 10 new security cameras along International Boulevard, with ten more on the way. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is cracking down on businesses suspected to propagate prostitution, including two notorious hotels.

Business owners said increased prostitution has left them feeling unsafe as it also causes a bump in robberies.

Paul Cheung, the 72-year-old owner of Connie’s Fashion on 19th and International, told KTVU his clothing shop has been robbed four times. A bullet that just missed Cheung is still lodged in the wall behind the counter, fired by a man he suspects was a pimp. A woman Cheung said was casing his store came in with a stack of $20 bills just before he was robbed of around $400.

Cheung and his wife Connie said they are glad to have the security cameras as protection for their business.

Alameda County assistant district attorney Sharmin Bock, who spoke about ending prostitution at a rally Friday, said that prostitution is rampant on International Boulevard:

“It’s an open air sex market.”

Those in the area worry about children, some of whom can be lured into illegal sex trafficking.

Police say the cameras and increased patrols are just one phase in a larger effort to curb prostitution.