By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An undercover vice sting that started shortly after nine Thursday morning on a strip of Kensington Avenue notorious for prostitution has resulted in six arrests.
And police added to the pain by seizing the cars of the alleged johns.
The female undercover officers were on the street corner just a few minutes before the first arrests went down.
The first man arrested was driving his cousin’s car, which was seized. He told police at the staging and processing area that he didn’t do it.
“Well, sir, at court you can settle that out,” the officer responded. “Right now, you are being arrested for patronizing a prostitute, to an undercover officer. Hands behind your back, please. All right, I am placing the handcuffs on you. I’ll be placing you in the wagon for a little while.”
The third alleged john was a cabbie in his taxicab.
“He wanted a specific sex act for money, and at that point, we placed him under arrest for prostitution-related offenses,” says Sgt. Joe Lanciano. “We’re gonna confiscate the cab, and both the vehicle and the guy are going back out to the staging area.”
Lt. Derrick Wood says a lot of other crimes are linked to prostitution, which he says affect the quality of life in the neighborhood.
“We have children who are out for the summer, walking to the pool, to the playground,” Wood tells KYW Newsradio. “They have to walk by the people out there patronizing prostitution. And kids are not only affected by what happens to them but also what they are exposed to.”
Lt. Wood says they don’t see many repeat customers — for most, one arrest in enough — and authorities are hoping a little publicity will help scare off some customers in this supply-and-demand business.
Those arrested were: Benjamin Vonyan Allen, 54, of Levittown; Desmond Cunningham, 47, of Philadelphia; John Francis, 49, of Philadelphia; Robert Santiago, 36, of Philadelphia; Charles Elgart, 69, of Blue Bell; and Stevenson Alcis, 35, of Philadelphia.
Among the things confiscated by police are a number of vehicles, more than $2,000 and Viagra pills.