Stanton Has Become a Popular Stop for Prostitutes : Crime: The L.A. riots, favorable weather, numerous cheap hotels and a change in sheriff’s deputies’ beats have made it an attractive place for women who travel a loosely defined circuit of cities.


A full moon illuminated a busy stretch of Beach Boulevard as undercover investigator Larry Vance drove slowly behind his partner. Small knots of women preened and strutted in the glow of street lamps.

Then, as a young blonde wrapped in a black dress slipped into the lead deputy’s car, Vance helped make one of the night’s numerous arrests for prostitution.

The woman, a 22-year-old mother from Vancouver, Wash., was among a growing number of prostitutes who travel a loosely defined circuit of cities and who have been finding their way to the Stanton area in slowly growing numbers.


Vice detectives Vance and partner Chris Rhodes, along with two other members of the Orange County sheriff’s vice unit, would work the rest of the night, logging 100 miles on one of their frequent, nocturnal patrols.

“You’re never going to get rid of it, but we try to keep it under control,” Rhodes said, after giving the Washington woman a citation and a court date in late August.

The Los Angeles riots, favorable weather, Stanton’s numerous cheap hotels and a recent change in the sheriff’s deputies’ beats have combined to make this small, tough city an attractive place for prostitution, investigators and the women themselves say.

There are no tallies of the number of women at work in the area. Vice investigators say they have made an average of 16 arrests per month of women on the circuit, compared to about five such arrests during the same time last year.

City Council members have received complaints about prostitution from business owners, discussed the problem at a recent meeting and expect to hear a report on it this week from Capt. Bob Eason, who commands Stanton’s sheriff’s deputies.

“I’ve heard a number of complaints over the past three months over this particular issue,” said Councilman David John Shawver. The council “better try to curtail the prostitution problem or we’ll have to call in a task force,” Shawver said.


Street prostitution and the problems associated with it--drugs, theft and assaults--have dogged Stanton since the mid-1980s. But the recent increase in women who try to stay one step ahead of the law by skipping from city to city concerns investigators and Stanton officials, who say they don’t want a repeat of the years when prostitution thrived along the city’s main thoroughfare.

But the word along the circuit grapevine has remained the same: Stanton is a place to be.

Gina, 25, said she came here from San Diego because she heard good things about the city of slightly more than 30,000 people.

“You’re probably going to have a lot of girls coming up from San Diego,” she told investigator Vance as he drove her to the Stanton sheriff’s station.

Some women who used to work the streets in Los Angeles “are coming to Orange County to test the waters,” vice investigator Chuck Daly said.

Kimberly of Los Angeles said she left her native city to work along Beach Boulevard in Stanton after the civil unrest in April and May.

“I had some girlfriends who told me about it,” the 21-year-old said. “And they spoke highly of it.”

Nineteen-year-old Angela, who was working one recent night in north Stanton along Beach Boulevard, said her pimp moved her here three months ago from San Francisco and San Jose.

“The weather is nice” and “the cops here don’t hassle you all the time for stuff like jaywalking,” she said.

Stanton’s latest crime problem follows an increase in assaults and drug dealing, said Councilman Harry Dotson. About four months ago, two motorcycle deputies were deployed to target drug dealing in different parts of the city, Eason said.

But authorities said that the circuit prostitutes migrating to Stanton with their pimps generally aren’t drug addicts, like some others.

But, Bonnie said, she is addicted to the quick money.

As she sat in the sheriff’s station after her arrest, Bonnie said she is beaten or threatened at least twice a month. But “once you get that money, it’s addicting,” she said.

She said she sends most of it home to help her mother in Washington, who takes care of Bonnie’s 2-year-old son.

Still, Bonnie has thought about changing her life and getting away from the street.

“Working girls are stupid, but. . . .” Bonnie’s voice trailed off and her gaze fell to the floor.

“I promised myself by the time my boy is 5 years old I would stop. You think about a square job and its oh no, just two checks per month. . . . The money is like really addictive.”