It was a pattern that the Lynbrook Police Department couldn’t help but notice: Since last Nov. 20, there have been 13 prostitution-related arrests at the Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn on Freer Street — four of them in February and one as recent as March 6.
“We became aware of a problem, and it’s being addressed,” said Police Chief Joseph Neve, who would not comment on the tactics being used because, he said, it would compromise the investigation.
The Capri’s general manager, Joe, who declined to give his last name, said that he is trying to prevent illicit activity at the motel, but there’s only so much he and his staff can do. He said that he cannot deny someone a room based on his or her appearance or a gut feeling, because he could be charged with discrimination.
“The only thing that I’m doing,” Joe said, “is being very cooperative with the detectives that come to the facility and go through the parking lot and run license plates.”
He added that guests at the Capri who are arrested on prostitution-related charges are taken into custody not in their rooms, but only when they get into a car. “The arrests are not being made inside my hotel,” Joe said.
Those who are arrested, he explained, are often people who make reservations online and check into the hotel using false identification. He has no way of knowing whether someone’s identification is real, he said. “I’m not a detective. I’m not a cop. I don’t run everybody’s license plate that comes in.” According to Joe, when he took over at the Capri about a year ago, the motel charged $100 per night for a room, but since then, he has increased the rate to $150 in an effort to attract a better clientele.
Those who regularly attend or watch village board meetings know that Mayor Bill Hendrick is not happy with the Capri; he often speaks of it in less than complimentary terms. “… [M]y first priority is the safety and well-being of our residents,” Hendrick said. “The Capri hotel certainly is not adding to that.”
For his part, Joe said he feels that the Capri is being targeted, and he said he plans to address the board at one of its upcoming meetings.
Six of those arrested in recent months were from Queens or Brooklyn, six were from Nassau County and one was from Rockland County. “As far as we’re concerned it doesn’t matter where you’re from if you’re committing a crime,” Neve said. “You’ll be arrested or get a ticket.”