Massage parlours in private condos a problem

Truth Vibrations

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Police in Toronto and surrounding municipalities are struggling to deal with the widespread problem of massage parlours operating out of residential buildings.

More and more illegal massage parlours are setting up shop inside residential condominiums, according to police, and trying to find them and shut them down is difficult.

For the residents who own condos in those buildings, like Horst Kroll, it has brought them face to face with the sex trade.

Kroll, who lives in a condo on Sheppard Avenue East in Toronto, said he sees young women inside his building who he suspects are working in the massage parlours.

"They are usually Chinese. Good looking girls. Very young," he said.

Kroll, 74, bought his condo decades ago. He said he now lives right above a massage parlour, which he believes is a front for a brothel.

"Not too long ago I had somebody knock on my door at 10:30 at night," Kroll said. "I opened the door and the man in front said, 'Where are the girls?' I said, 'You are on the wrong floor.'"

He said there are loud noises and strangers coming and going throughout the day. Kroll said he has even seen women engaged in prostitution out on the balcony of the apartment.

"The word has spread out that this place is very, very good for doing illegal business because nobody cares," Kroll told CBC News

Kroll said he has complained to police, the city and the management at his condo, but so far nothing has changed.

Security cameras were recently installed on each floor. But residents claim that isn't enough.

"I live in a building that I'm ashamed to live in. I'm afraid to take my dogs out because I've been threatened more than once by drunks coming in for prostitutes," said Sophia Furtado, another resident.

Det. Dave Rydzik of Toronto police, said the suspected massage parlour in Kroll's building is just one of hundreds. "They are popping up all over the place," he said.

Police must have proof and a warrant to make an arrest and lay charges — and that could take years.

"When you are talking about a private dwelling unit it's a difficult investigation for us to proceed," Rydzik said.

Bruce Robertson, Toronto's director of licensing, said there's no question the massage parlours are illegal.

"They would not get a business licence to operate out of a residence," he said.

But the operators of the massage parlours don't go looking for business licences. They just set up shop and start operating.

Police said sometimes if the illegal massage parlours get too much attention from police they just quietly move.

"Often just the visits alone and the attention they're receiving from us will make them leave," said Rydzik.

'"They'll go to another unit maybe in that apartment or condo, or maybe they'll go to another condominium building."