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I-Team: The Problem of Daytime Prostitution

I-Team: The Problem of Daytime Prostitution - Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 11:30PM EST

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY- In an I-Team exclusive, we are investigating a growing problem - daytime prostitution. Lead Investigator Andy Mehalshick shows us how it is impacting several area communities, and how some citizens are fighting back.
It is sometimes called mankind’s oldest profession - prostitution. We all know what it is but what many may not be aware of, it’s now “taking to the streets" in broad daylight.

South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre is a hotspot for the daytime hookers. Just ask Phyliss Monda, owner of Tony D's Pizza. "During business hours we watch activity, walking past the store a million and one times. We watch drug transactions in broad daylight, maybe up to 10:00 at night every day nonstop. It got to a point, it was so common we even got to know their name," she said.

Phyliss and her brother Franco had enough. “We weren't going to allow it. We weren't going to tolerate it, we weren't going to have it. So we stepped outside and got them out of our place, we have chased them, we have repeatedly gone after them numerous times. We were at the point they know us. They don't even pass here anymore," she said.

Wilkes-Barre police have been proactive and have made their share of arrests. But these hookers get out, leave for a few weeks, and work a circuit, using Scranton to the north and Hazleton to the south.

Luzerne County Sheriff Mike Savokinas works with local police on sting operations. “These hookers are bold in broad daylight. It’s business. It doesn't matter if it's under the cover of darkness or broad daylight, it’s making money," he said.

Daytime hooking is nothing new in major cities, but for northeastern Pennsylvania it is a growing concern. Pizza shop owner Franco Monda said, "It’s still out there. The police constantly patrol the streets. They get arrested and get out back on the street. It’s a growing problem."

So the Mondas and other nearby business owners say they will continue to fight. They don't believe prostitution, as some would say, is a victimless crime. They insist their customers and nearby residents should not have to face these hookers and the dirt that often goes along with it, like drug dealing.

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