CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After the open signs flip to closed on Charleston's West Side, another type of "business" opens up.
Police have made 22 prostitution arrests on the West Side within the past 30 days. There were less than 10 in the 60 days before that, said Special Enforcement Unit Sgt. Tim Palmer.
While prostitution is usually more prevalent when the weather is warmer, Palmer said there was a definite lack of nighttime activity this summer. However, it's picked back up in the past few weeks.
"Maybe a bunch of people we arrested over the summer are out," Palmer said, "but the increase is all over."
The increase could be linked to the failing economy or drugs on the city's West Side; however, the street unit has not seen an unusual increase in drug activity.
Mayor Danny Jones said he doesn't know if the increase in arrests means there was an increase in women on the street corners, or just more active police work.
Regardless, Jones said complaints do come in to the Mayor's Office about the illegal night activities.
"Lots of people think it's harmless," he said, "but it's not harmless when it's being done in front of your home."
Not everyone is noticing the increase, though.
Andy Pile, whose family-owned F.M. Pile Hardware Store is on West Washington Street, said prostitution has fallen off in the past few years. "Arrests may be up, but it's only present at night. We don't see it in the daytime anymore."
Pile said that, in years past, women would be working the street corner in broad daylight, targeting customers trying to enter the store. That has stopped, he said.
"Occasionally, I'll see one passing through, but not actually working." However, "things change after dark. As the sun goes down, incidents go up."