Internet fuels local prostitution activity


CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – A prostitution bust in the suburbs is rare but after last week’s arrests in Canfield, WYTV 33 News looked into whether prostitution is becoming a growing problem.

Leah Petruzzi and Shanika Simmons face prostitution charges after police arrested them at a home on Hood Drive in Canfield on Oct. 3.

Neighbors noticed some commotion coming from the house and notified police.

“They just observed a lot of people going in and out of the residence, which is unusual to them,” said Canfield Police Sgt. Cristobal Ruiz. “They called us, we investigated and determined it was also unusual.”

Police followed up with a search of Backpage.com, which solicits prostitution. Undercover officers called the number, which led them to Petruzzi’s home. Petruzzi told police that Simmons created the post.

Simmons also is facing a prostitution charge in Liberty. Police Chief Rich Tisone said the internet makes it easier for people to meet online first.

“The bigger issue is the social network, which makes it available to every jurisdiction in every town,” Tisone said.

Even though Sgt. Ruiz said prostitution is not typically a problem, it is a website they monitor at least once a week.

“We periodically check those to make sure there isn’t anything obvious,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz said it has been about two years since they had a prostitution arrest in the city.

“We investigated something like this, but it was a few years ago when we had a bigger issue at a local motel,” Ruiz said.

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