At first glance, Lafayette's Brown Avenue would seem the dictionary description of "small town street," with a couple of locally-owned stores and friendly neighbors.
However, on Tuesday, locals learned of a darker side to one of their neighboring businesses when a woman was arrested at Lelouch Massage for alleged prostitution -- the fourth alleged sex worker to be
of Concord after she allegedly offered sex to an undercover officer. Neighbors living near the non-descript parlors have complained about a “sketchy” clientele.
While some seemed blissfully unaware of any illegal activity on Brown Avenue, others had been waiting for police to take action.
Linda Morris, manager of The Cotton Patch, which is located across the street from the Lelouch Massage, said she was not surprised that someone had been arrested. In fact, she was surprised that only one woman was apprehended.
“We had suspected for quite a while that something was going on. One dead giveaway is there has never been a single woman go in there, that we’ve ever seen,” Morris said.
Morris also said that while it seemed strange that many of the customers came at night, she never noticed anyone who seemed out of place.
“I didn’t see anyone who I would call ‘seedy,’ they were just average guys,” Morris said.
The Cotton Patch holds classes in a building located behind the massage parlor at night. While Morris said she didn’t feel threatened or uncomfortable with the activity at the parlor, other women who were taking classes did say they felt uneasy. She also noted that neighbors who lived nearby had expressed their concern about the situation.
Though Morris thought it was only a matter of time before the police arrested someone, Susan Erwin, who works at Alternatives For Animals next door to the massage parlor, was “shocked and surprised” by the arrest.
“I've never see anything that would make me suspicious that that business wasn’t legitimate,” Erwin said.
A community member who was visiting the vet said she had not heard about the arrest, and was surprised that prostitution was an issue in Lafayette.
Erwin suggested that licensing and certification for massage parlors should be stricter, and surprise visits from police might also quell the illegal activity. Both approaches are currently underway, police and city officials say.
On Wednesday afternoon, a police car drove up the street, and seemed to be keeping an eye on the massage parlor. The parlor had an “open” sign on the window, and there were two cars parked in the driveway.
Both Morris and Erwin agreed that they were happy to see the police taking action.
“It’s an illegal business going on in Lafayette, so it certainly should be stopped. We’d rather see a legitimate business happening,” Morris said.
What do you think about the recent arrest? Are you surprised that prostitution is an issue in Lafayette? Tell us what you think in the comments below.