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Oakland Residents Hope ‘Dear John’ Letters Help Curb Prostitution

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Prostitutes walk along a sidewalk.

Prostitutes walk along a sidewalk. (AP)

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OAKLAND (KCBS) — Nobody likes to get a Dear John letter, and soon men who patronize prostitutes in East Oakland will be receiving them from residents who want to scare them out of the neighborhood.

The sex trade flourishes along International Boulevard, with men driving by every night, picking up prostitutes, many of them underage. Now the East Bay Asian Youth Center is launching the “Dear John” campaign – targeting the men, not the young girls.

“If you come and have sex with an underage girl, it’s a criminal act,” said organizer Andy Nelson. “If you’re buying sex from an underage girl, you’re participating in the commercial exploitation of this child.”

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Nelson said neighbors will be trained to jot down the license numbers and descriptions of the customers’ cars, and the Oakland police will use the information to send letters to the owners of the cars.

“The letters are not accusing anyone of a crime,” Nelson said. “We’re simply noting that, ‘Hey, we saw you here.'”

Oakland is the first city in California to try this, and Nelson hopes the exposure will shame the men, into staying away.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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