More sex for sale in Everett
Complaints about prostitution are up, so police are running more sting operations.
She had kicked off her flip-flops and the legs of her bright blue sweatpants were pushed up to her knees, revealing a tattoo that wrapped around her ankle.
She looked bored.
The woman, just turned 18, was familiar with how it all worked.
The police would write her a ticket and take her to jail in handcuffs.
Just a couple of weeks earlier, she'd been arrested after she tired to sell sex to an undercover Everett police officer.
It didn't stop her from returning to the streets Thursday evening.
Everett police have received an increasing number of complaints of prostitutes in south Everett. Business owners say the crime is bad for business.
"They were soliciting people in our parking lot. It's already a high-crime area. This just adds to it," said Mike Grennes, manager at American Car Care Center on Evergreen Way.
Grennes said he's noticed more women sauntering along the sidewalk. One afternoon a couple weeks ago, he counted 11 different women. Employees at another business down the street counted 13 prostitutes.
"They're not aggressive and not normally a problem. I just worry about those girls. I told them to watch themselves out there," said Steve Eichner at Tire and Wheel County Tire Factory on Evergreen Way.
More women are coming to Everett to sell sex. Police say it's dangerous for the women, their customers and the public.
"Some say it's a victimless crime. We don't see it that way. We see the girls get victimized and assaulted and robbed. We see the customers get beat up and robbed," Everett police Lt. Dan Templeman said. "If we can change behavior, even if it gets one or two people out of it, I think it's worth it."
Everett police have done a number of stings in recent weeks. They snagged seven women in mid-August. The woman arrested Thursday was one of those they booked into jail last month.
Detectives recognized the teenager as she got into a vehicle with a stranger in south Everett. They followed the black sport utility vehicle. The man eventually parked in a vacant lot behind a business. The man's clothes were off when police knocked on the window of the vehicle.
Officers found a condom wrapper and a crisp $50 bill.
The man, 29, was handcuffed.
The woman told police she usually charges $100 for sex, but business was slow Thursday. She agreed to cut the price in half.
The man was given a ticket for soliciting a prostitute and allowed to drive off. The woman, because she'd been arrested a couple weeks ago, went to jail.
Everett City Councilman Ron Gipson recently proposed that the city post the pictures of the people convicted of soliciting a prostitute on Everett's cable station and Web site. He said he believes humiliation is just punishment for people who exploit young women.
The police department has just begun to look at the proposal, Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said.
Meanwhile, police officers will continue to operate stings.
Detectives on Thursday cruised the streets of Everett. They spotted a woman who had previous arrests for prostitution walking along Evergreen Way. She disappeared off the street before an undercover officer could catch her attention. Another woman spotted on Broadway told a detective posing as a customer that she might be working. But she walked off and never returned.
For the most part, streetwalkers were scarce.
That's a welcome sight for police. They hope increased pressure will get the women and customers to change their minds about engaging in prostitution. They are realistic enough to understand it probably means the women have moved on to another location or are arranging "dates" using Web sites like Craigslist.
Grennes and Eichner also said they are pleased to see fewer prostitutes on the streets.
"It's a big difference," Grennes said. "I think the police did a good job cleaning them out for now."
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or email@example.com.
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