BY COURTNEY OBENG
The sudden growth of massage parlors around Whitestone is rubbing some residents the wrong way.
During Wednesday’s We Love Whitestone civic association meeting, members spoke of concerns that some of the parlors are fronts for prostitution. In one area, Whitestone Village, seven different parlors opened in close proximity to each other, according to We Love Whitestone President Alfredo Centola.
But Deputy Inspector Edward Winski of the NYPD Vice Enforcement Unit said a large concentration of massage parlors doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong.
“I’m not naïve; I know what happens inside some of these parlors,” Winski said. “They’re not all illegal. Some are. Some don’t have proper licenses. Some give more than massages.”
Winski admitted that some neighborhoods do have a higher concentration of massage parlors and that, when reported to police, proper actions are taken. However, shutting down every storefront when they pop up isn’t possible.
Certain massage parlors posted advertisements on websites such as Backpage, which is said to be an X-rated response to Craigslist. One ad for Candy Spa on Clintonville Street boasted having gorgeous Asian staff and late hours. Potential customers were asked to call the number so they can receive a text message with the spa’s address.
Winski stressed the importance of reporting these massage parlors so the police can shut them down.
“We respond to complaints from the community. If you suspect something is going on, report it and we’ll investigate,” Winski said.
Reporting suspected prostitution in massage parlors can be done anonymously through 311 by supplying the location or by calling the Organized Crime Control Bureau’s 24-hour hotline.
Although prostitution and sex trafficking are the main issues, residents can also report suspected illegal gambling, child pornography, and violent bars and clubs.
It was also stressed that residents not take these matters into their own hands.
“Don’t take pictures of men and women walking in and out,” Centola said. “If you see it, just report it.”