'It was something I'd probably never seen in my life'

'It was something I'd probably never seen in my life' »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Bali Hai Motel owner Sonny Shah took over the North 1st Street business five years ago.

"It was something I'd probably never seen in my life," said Shah.

Back then, prostitution at his motel was commonplace.

"I used to stay up to midnight, 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock and stay up late and kick those people out," said Shah.

Sonny, like other motel owners on North 1st Street, adopted stricter policies especially when it came to visitors to cut down on unwanted company.

"They will be kicked out if they don't follow it," said Shah.

The result has been, what Sonny calls, a complete turnaround.

KIMA learned Yakima police are responding to fewer prostitution incidents city wide.

There were a total of 39 reported prostitution incidents in 2011, which dropped to a dozen last year.

Although some motels have adopted stricter policies, Yakima police say others simply turn a blind eye to make a little cash.

KIMA spoke with one neighbor who says the prostitution's not in her face every day but it's still very much there

"Living in this area, you can recognize the same people over and over and, what they're doing," said neighbor Chelsey Markel. "You still see guys looking for them. Just by the way they drive in their cars."

It's risky business. YPD puts pressure on "Jane" and "johns" by conducting undercover stings.

Those stings, however, are harder to do because of a lack of manpower.

Officers say prostitutes using the internet instead of the streets have also led to a drop in reported incidents.

"If they're not there, it just means they've just moved somewhere else," said Markel.

For neighbors and business owners like Sonny, it's welcome news.

Yakima Police say they've noticed prostitution picking up in other places around town, specifically on Fruitvale Boulevard.