RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – During the day, the streets in downtown Richmond are crowded with people heading home from work. But as night falls, another crowd is heading to work. Male prostitutes hit the streets looking to have sex with other men.
"He wanted to do something sexual with me, you know what I'm saying?" said one man who asked we do not reveal his identity. "He wanted to give me a ****** and he was asking me was I down for that."
We caught up with him at the corner of 2nd and Grace. He claims he was just taking a relaxing walk in this area after being dropped off from his West End home. He told us he was not soliciting sex, but has seen it and even been approached.
"There are a million places around here," he said. "You can go up in the cut somewhere and you can go in an alley, you can go in somebody's car. It don't have to necessarily take place here. Most people want money. They take money for sex. You got people that come out here that want drugs. It's been going on for years."
And Richmond Police are still trying to crackdown on this illegal activity. Lieutenant Hamlet Hood has found that busting these male prostitutes is sometimes difficult.
"All they're doing is standing," said Lt. Hood. "They're not really committing any overt crimes and we are trying to make it unattractive for this type of behavior in this community. It's not so overt you can just go down and see it. It's usually in the nighttime hours. Usually after 10 p.m. into the early hours of the next morning."
Prosecutor Chris Ripley says the real victims of this illegal activity are the people who call this area home. She says the sex for sale trade has a negative impact on the neighborhood and many of the residents are complaining.
"We have citizens who come out in their backyards or in an alley and find used condoms in the morning and there's absolutely no need for that and no one should have to live that way so our office takes prostitution very seriously," said Ripley.
Together, Lieutenant Hood and Ripley are working get the male hookers off the streets. They're asking for residents to call police when they see men lurking in their neighborhoods late at night, who might not belong there.
"We've spent the past few years since Mr. Herring came into office refocusing and working with the police department and establishing prostitution free zones so we are in a better position to prosecute the people who are charged with these crimes," said Ripley.
Even if authorities are able to clean up this area, the unidentified man we spoke with says the male prostitution problem will just move to another location.
"It used to be on Franklin Street around at the library," he said. "This is going back from the 70's and 80's."