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Who's Patronizing Lafayette's Massage Parlors?

In recent weeks Lafayette police have sought to find out exactly what is going on behind those closed doors -- and who is patronizing the businesses.

 

Smoke and fire, apparently, in Lafayette as an ongoing investigation into exactly what was happening in those downtown strip mall massage parlors turned up a few surprises.

Chief Eric Christensen called them his "A-ha" moments.

"We learned, first, by simple observation, that all of the customers were men and that, although there was plenty of parking in front, they usually parked in the neighborhoods surrounding the business," the chief wrote in a briefing issued by city staff. "Our suspicions raised, we began stopping customers as they departed the businesses to find out who they were and why they were there. My biggest ah-ha moment came when I learned that, when an officer stopped a customer because there were no license plates on his vehicle, a check of his drivers license revealed that he was a registered sex offender from a city on the other side of the County."

The chief said that ongoing and "snappy" "water cooler" discussions of massage parlors and prostitution here and elsewhere paled when compared to one overriding factor -- the fact that a convicted out-of-town child molester driving a car with no license plates and drawn by the town's massage parlors was found parked in a local neighborhood.

"That's not acceptable," Christensen said.

Christensen further states that his officers began stopping more vehicles and conducting more intensive interviews with customers as they emerged from their massages and, in doing so, "met all varieties of gang members, convicted felons, and other less-than-admirable characters as they frequented our downtown."

The chief dispelled the notion of the parlors as "victimless" enterprises offering services that many have said should be allowed to continue because they cause no appreciable harm.

"Victimless?" he challenged. " No. In fact, the victims are us – the people that live and work in Lafayette and are exposed to the risks these lowlifes bring to town.  And that’s before we discuss the conditions for the employees on the other side of the equation, many of whom, when we interviewed them yesterday, could not speak any English."      

Investigators are now "following the money," the chief said, tracking credit card transactions, payrolls, bank accounts -- with the goal to "break the backs of these businesses and shut them down for good."

Amanda June 15, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Can't say that I'm shocked AT ALL.
Robert Strauss June 15, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Yes I can't say its a big revelation to learn that the guys patronizing these places are creepy, don't advertise their presence by parking in front of the place and that some of them may have criminal records. I do believe the city and the police acted appropriately to investigate the problem and hopefully crack down on violations.
Chris Nicholson June 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM
The LPD Chief said: "No. In fact, the victims are us – the people that live and work in Lafayette and are exposed to the risks these lowlifes bring to town." Amen. Now THAT is a rationale that I can get behind. These places should be relocated next to Dollar Tree in Rheem as part of a broader containment strategy. We need higher-end businesses to serve local residents. I'm thinking of the latest european luxury items rather than the current wares.
Eastofthehills June 15, 2012 at 09:31 PM
"These places should be relocated next to Dollar Tree in Rheem as part of a broader containment strategy" No need there's already a college here
Mack Sennet June 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM
But, of course, while the names of the women were published, the names of the sex offenders and other lowlifes haven't been printed. I'd much rather know the names of the lowlifes than the employees - many of whom, according to the Chief - can't speak English.
Chris Nicholson June 16, 2012 at 12:28 AM
I was actually shocked to see the names printed here based only on their arrest. The social stigma of being accused of being a sex worker is pretty HUGE. Plus, some think that many of these women are themselves victims. Why rush to thrash their lives? In general, I would be fine disclosing names of convicted "Johns," (and convicted sex workers), but I would not print names solely because they appear on a list. This is especially true given that some patrons of houses of ill repute have been know to falsely use the good names of annoying Patch commenters in a elaborate attempt to discredit them....
Mack Sennet June 16, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Seems strange given we had a story about "Contractor X" but these women were quickly named. http://lamorinda.patch.com/articles/lamorinda-tales-when-good-remodels-go-bad
Lissa Sorensen June 16, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Are you talking about Ross Rembac??? http://lamorinda.patch.com/articles/tk-71de8554
lovelafayette June 16, 2012 at 05:14 AM
Guilty plea is my guess.
Mack Sennet June 16, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Lissa - I think that's who it turned out to be. But in the first reports, despite being named in several lawsuits, his identity was protected. These women were quickly named. And, of course, the johns, who apparently have serious criminal records, are nameless.
Downtown Homeowner June 21, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Thank you Chief Nicholson. Please continue your vigilance towards eradicating these types of businesses in Lafayette.
Titslinger July 23, 2012 at 06:21 PM
European Luxury items that no one can afford? Please. Have you noticed all of the empty store fronts on Mt Diablo Blvd? Businesses are leaving Lafayette or just folding up. It's tough to make a living when the rent is sky high and your landlord has his hand in your cash register.

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