Bozeman Police credit diligent citizen for prostitution bust
"We have eight camera views" said TLC Inn manager Paula Marquardt, pointing to a computer monitor that showed views from their several surveillance cameras.
She said last weekend, she noticed something fishy while watching the cameras.
"It was just a little bit obvious to me that there was something was going on" she said.
Marquardt saw several men entering and leaving a room. Suspicious one of the guests was soliciting sex, she called police.
"I just kept gathering information and kept contacting them every time a new gentlemen arrived" she said.
After patrolling the area, police found an apparent customer and got him to confess. Then police arrested 24-year old Idaho woman Linda Matlock.
A man she called her boyfriend was with her, collecting the money. Police found nearly $4,000 cash in his wallet.
Police didn't have enough evidence to charge the man with anything.
"It makes the trail pretty difficult to follow" said Bozeman Police Deputy Chief Rich McLane, about what it's like for police to track prostitution.
He said it's a tough crime to crack down on. Luckily, he said it doesn't happen often in Bozeman. But when it does?
"They're not normally living in our area. And they come in, they get what they can for a day or two, they move on to the next city" McLane said. "By the time we find out about it, they're nowhere to be found."
He said the sex solicitor will place ads on Craigslist offering massage services- so it's not as obvious. They'll stay in a hotel and register under a false name.
So the only way to catch them is if someone notices and calls police before the people involved leave town.
And McLane said thanks to Marquardt's diligence, they did just that on Saturday.
Marquardt said a new owner took over the hotel, and recently instated a security policy to catch and stop crimes like this in their tracks.
"We are calling it our four-prong security program" she said.
It includes staff security training and partnering with the police department. The hotel also installed security locks on all doors, and a security system with surveillance on every floor.
And while they plan to keep crime out of their hotel- Marquardt said they hope to work with others to do the same.
"We would love for the hotels to come together" she said, for "a community effort to keep Bozeman anti-crime."
By law, prostitution is a misdemeanor offense- no matter how many times someone is arrested for it.
Matlock was bailed out of jail on $500 bond, and Marquardt said she spotted Matlock and the man just the next day going to a different hotel.
She said she immediately called that hotel to tell them not to rent a room to the couple.