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Prostitution Dips on Lankershim in Sun Valley, Business Owners Say

Police efforts have led to a decline in prostitute sightings, according to a few local entrepreneurs.

A few business owners along Lankershim Boulevard in Sun Valley say prostitution in the area has declined in recent months thanks to efforts by the Los Angeles Police Department, but the problem isn't completely solved yet.

Prostitution has been an ongoing issue on the major street for years with 164 suspects booked in 2011 for the crime, according to the LAPD.

The police conducted several sting operations this year involving officers combing the area for 24 hours. An operation in March netted 26 suspects.

Muds Classic Parts & Restoration owner Dan Schumacher said the outings has been effective.

"It was pretty bad, I'd see groups of [prostitutes] early in the morning and in the evening, half a dozen or more," he said. "That's subsided. Now you might just see a couple there."

A Patch reporter visited the Lankershim area several times over the last week and did not observe any obvious signs of street prostitution.

Cindy Sower of Sun Valley Equipment Rentals, who's been interviewed by the Daily News several times on the matter, told Patch Tuesday she's noticed fewer prostitutes near her business, but believes they have moved further south on Lankershim toward North Hollywood.

"I saw one hooker today, zero yesterday. I just know it's gone down in the past few months, it's not as bad," she said, adding: "It's sad to say I think it's pushed some of it down that direction."

Sower said communication between business owners and the LAPD is crucial and that some establishments south of her storefront are not taking the matter seriously enough.

"It's up to them to notify the police so they can do something about it," she said.

The last LAPD task force operation against prostitution on Lankershim was carried out in May, said Sgt. Jesse Ojeda of Foothill Division's vice unit.

Both Schumacher and Sower said prostitute sightings diminish significantly after task force outings, but that they have seen a small uptick in the past few weeks.

That's why Ojeda said another 24-hour operation will be carried out in October. He added that the LAPD recently took other measures to curb the problem.

Ojeda said the police department, in conjunction with the City Attorney's office, has established three stay-away zones along Lankershim near the Sun Valley and North Hollywood border.

If someone is arrested for soliticiting prostitution in one of the zones, they could be booked again for simply being spotted in the same zone again, he said.

"It sways them not to return," Ojeda said.

Patch will report on the success of the next task force outing.

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