NEW ORLEANS - Inside the 8thDistrict police station in the French Quarter, dozens of photos are posted on a board on the wall. Police say they are the faces of alleged French Quarter prostitutes who have made off with a lot more than their John bargained for.
'That saying, 'Stay away from loose women and pick-pockets' that's been around for decades here in the French Quarter, that's something that we deal with on a constant basis,' said 8thDistrict Commander Jeff Walls.
The majority of prostitutes arrested in the French Quarter have also committed theft, said Walls. The ladies walk Bourbon Street or visit certain bars between midnight and 5 a.m., targeting older white men from out of ton, often with Rolexes, who have had too much to drink, said Walls.
'They're looking for the easy money and if they don't have to perform the act, they won't. They'll just take whatever they can,' said Walls.
Police say oftentimes prostitutes will ask their John to go to an ATM to get cash for their services. Then they'll watch him put in his personal identification number. Once they get back to the hotel room, they'll steal his card.
'They'll get to the room, say, 'You need to go freshen up, you need to go clean up,' and then they're gone. They have the debit card and they'll run up a bill,' said Walls.
Police say one case escalated to a man being shot in the hand earlier this month at Toulouse and Decatur streets. They say, when he confronted an alleged prostitute about his missing wallet, she pulled out a gun, and when he tried to take it away, it went off.
Police say victims are often reluctant to say how their money was stolen. But of the 130 prostitution arrests police have made so far this year in the French Quarter, many involved theft, said Walls.
The French Quarter Business Association sent out an email earlier this month, warning its member hotels about the scam.
Police say big events or conventions in the city also bring in more prostitutes, and police caution those attending conventions to steer clear of ladies of the night.
Walls said often, pimps are behind the thefts, asking women to steal as much as they can.
Police are working with an organization called the Friendship House, aimed at getting prostitutes away from their pimps and finding them the help they need.
The NOPD is ramping up their efforts to target prostitution through Operation Heat, apartnership with state police and the FBI.
While soliciting prostitution is a crime, police say they won't charge men who have become victims.