BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Members of Bakersfield's Safe Neighborhoods and Community Relations committee recommended more police presence at local internet cafes, Thursday, after noticing an increase in crime.
“When you've got prostitution, illegal drug deals and loitering that's causing a problem where landlords are getting their tenants chased out, we need to do something," said Russell Johnson, Bakersfield City Council ward 7.
The committee received multiple complaints from local businesses that surround The Cyber Hot Spot, The Loft-O-Luck and I-Sweeps Internet Cafe. Business owners that 23 ABC spoke to said that the cafes are creating a negative change to their neighborhoods.
Hal Shapiro, a dentist whose office sits next to The Loft-O-Luck in Southwest Bakersfield said he has noticed an increase in crime around his office because of the presence of the internet cafe.
The dentist said many of his patient have complained of excessive loitering, trash, and police calls around the neighborhood.
The city attorney's office has also sent multiple letters to both The Cyber Hot Spot and I-Sweep Internet Cafe in the last couple of months, which alleged the cafes of engaging in illegal internet gambling.
Both cafes claimed that all the services they they were providing were legal. Since the notices were sent out, police calls have decreased at The Cyber Hot Spot and owners of I-Sweeps have said that the internet cafe would be relocating due to a decrease in business.
For now, city council members advise more police presence around internet cafe areas. They hope to later enact a city ordinance that would limit the house of operation for internet cafes.