Just after 1 p.m. Wednesday, LAPD officers from the Foothill Division stopped a woman on San Fernando Boulevard just north of Lankershim in Sun Valley. They say they warned her that the actions they observed, her pacing up and down the block, were consistent with a streetwalking prostitute. They warned her to leave the area before they arrested her for loitering for the purposes of prostitution.
Foothill Division police say for years they had failed to crack a thriving prostitution business operating in the Sun Valley area. That is until they say a massive sting operation last Wednesday netted multiple arrests of prostitutes, pimps and customers.
"It started at 4 o'clock in the morning on March 7th and went till approximately midnight that same day, about a 20-hour operation, and that operation yielded 34 arrests," said LAPD Captain Joseph Hiltner.
Police say the biggest prostitution problem has been concentrated around the intersection of Lankershim Boulevard and Neenach Street, an area filled with homes and businesses.
"All of our resources at Foothill, not just Vice, are working the operation on a regular basis," said Hiltner.
Donna Daniel is director of development at the Mary Magdalene Project, an organization that helps prostitutes clean up their lives. Daniel says during the economic slump they have seen more women turn to the streets.
"When the economy has gone downfall more women are approaching prostitution and there are a lot of women who want to be able to take care of their kids, and it's the only option for them," said Daniel.
Residents and business-owners say on some nights there would be so many prostitutes out the streets would be congested with customers in their cars.
"We have a neighbor that lives behind me that tells me that when the bars close at 3 or 4 in the morning, that they need traffic control out here because they go around and around until they pick up the girl that they choose," said local business-owner Cindy Soden.
Residents say since the sting operation, the streets are a lot less congested at night.
"I have been living her for over 30 years," said area resident Stella Arringdon. "We also want to send a message to the ones who are in that kind of job, what they do for a living, to move to other places, not to come around here because all the neighborhood are watching them."