Prostitution is an old business with deep roots in west Gastonia.
Gastonia Police Sergeant Jimmy Arndt tells WBTV that Airline Avenue has always been a hotbed of activity. Over the years, his department has worked hard to break up the sex business there.
"Airline Avenue has always been a trouble spot for prostitution, and it is a prostitution zone that we worked on and we continue to work," Arndt said. "We have done a very good job of maintaining a presence and moving them on and making arrests when we can. We have had a good impact."
Police tell WBTV prostitution has strong links to violent crimes. In the past couple weeks, two Gaston County men were beaten and robbed at gunpoint.
Sgt. Arndt said both men were trying to hire a prostitute. Both men initially lied to police, making it harder for police to make an arrest.
"If you honestly report crime, it lets us know where we are at. It also narrows our list of suspects and we know where to begin."
Neighbors on the west side of town tell WBTV there has been notable progress in the fight against prostitution.
Lemetric James has lived in Gastonia since 2006. She said prostitutes no longer walk by her home. Still, she is calling on the community to help fight prostitution.
"You don't see too many of them on this side anymore. You got the community watching out. They don't come this way too much because the police are up and down this road all the time," James said. "Let's stop it. Don't be part of the problem, be part of the solution."
Investigators tell WBTV they will continue to beef-up police presence along Airline Avenue, in an effort keep prostitution under control.