Illegal massage parlor crackdown continues in 104th Precinct

Captain Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, announced the closure of another illegal massage parlor on Myrtle Avenue during the 104th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday night.
RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Since employing new tactics to combat prostitution at illegal massage parlors, the 104th Precinct has seen another establishment close, the precinct’s commander informed residents during the 104th Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday night at Frank Kowalinski Post 4 in Maspeth.

Capt. Mark Wachter’s strategy in getting these institutions closed included placing uniformed police officers in front of known illegal massage parlors in hopes of deterring the establishments from opening, or patrons from entering.

The latest illegal massage parlor to close its doors for good due to an increase in police presence was Dream Spa, located at 65-18 Myrtle Ave. in Glendale.

“We put an officer in front of there for a few weeks, [and] it closed down on its own,” Wachter said. “My strategy was … if you’re a legitimate business, you’re a barber shop, a bodega, a house of worship, you’re going to be happy to see a uniformed police officer walking back and forth on your block. If you’re a business operating illegally, you’re not going to be happy to see us. You can open up, you can operate, I’m not going to stop you, but most people are not going to walk into a business with a police officer there.”

Wachter is now looking toward local lawmakers for legislative help to change the laws to prevent these illegal establishments from opening up.

“We only have so much enforcement powers the police department can do, but I need help. I need legislative help. I need the laws to be changed,” he told residents. “What I’m looking to do as I’m sitting down with the local representatives and even the state representatives, I want them to draft a law, a proposal in the City Council or [in Albany] basically saying that we can go in there and inspect these facilities and if you don’t have the proper permits you have to close down … once you get all the proper permits you can open up again.”

During the meeting Wachter also noted a downturn in crimes for the month for the Precinct. The 104th Precinct is down about 11 percent in crime, which means there has been 146 fewer victims of serious crimes, he noted.

“Right now, as I said, for the year we are down in every major crime,” Wachter said. “Next year we are going to introduce some new strategies. We already started some things now for the holiday season. A lot of times during the holiday season you’ll see some kind of uptick in crime, crimes of opportunity.”

Wachter warned those in attendance to be mindful of their surroundings during the holiday season as crooks tend to target unattended belongings at this time of year.