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Sydney Brothel Busters: A Private Investigator’s Dream or Nightmare?

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It is no secret that both licensed (legal) and unlicensed (unlawful) brothels operate heavily throughout Sydney. These ancient and controversial institutions usually conduct their business from camouflaged residential homes and discreetly advertise with only a flashing number sign or a suspiciously unseasonable Christmas light.

But where the average punter might not think twice about these decrepit old buildings, here at Lyonswood it’s our job to inspect and investigate Sydney’s illegal brothels. In fact, we conduct about 10 to 20 brothel investigations each year and often observe environments that most people only see in shows like Underbelly or The Sopranos.

So what really goes on behind an illegal brothels’ heavily padlocked doors? Is it a private investigator’s dream assignment or sobering window into a depressing world?

Keep reading to find out…


From our various investigations we found that prostitutes working in Sydney’s Illegal brothels are either overseas students paying their way through university or migrants without work visas forced to work in these harsh environments. There are also further instances where sex workers, usually from Thailand, are shockingly brought to Australia and effectively quarantined from society to pay off “debts” to their handlers. In one instance, there was even a scenario where one of our investigators uncovered a girl completing 12 to 14-hour shifts.


Councils will usually receive complaints about unlicensed brothels because residents or businesses don’t want illegal activity occurring near them and partly because there is sometimes additional unpleasant behaviour associated with these venues. During the course of our investigations into unlicensed brothels we became aware of activities such as illegal possession of firearms, illegal dumping and underage sex trafficking.

It should also be noted that this problem is only getting worse with Fairfax Media revealing 34 brothels operate within a five-kilometre radius on the north shore, with 19 in Willoughby and 15 in North Sydney.


In order for our Private Investigators to gather evidence, we aim to go deep undercover into Sydney’s illegal brothels. A recent case involved a council worker disguising himself as an acupuncturist. Once inside, the agent made simple inquiries about how the lights were dimmed very low and wondered how they did acupuncture in near darkness. They hadn’t prepared for such questions. He then proceeded to ask where the acupuncture needles were and the brothel owner explained that they had run out. Upon returning, he went back and asked the same question where he was led down a long corridor to a storage room where a small unwrapped box of acupuncture needles was now stored. The madam showed him, smiling confidently, as though this absolved her of any guilt.

From this case alone, it’s shocking how brazen these brothel owners are when conducting their illegal and immoral businesses.


Entering and investigating Sydney’s illegal brothels is a physically and emotionally draining job. This is why when we placed an advertisement looking for “Brothel Buster Investigators” it included several confronting but vital requirements.

These were:

* Be unmarried/single.

*Be willing to have protected sexual intercourse with the prostitutes.

*Be willing to give evidence in court.

*Have a private investigator license.

*Awareness of occupational health and safety

*Good command of written and spoken English.

It should be also stressed that this type of brothel investigation is a completely legal service that Lyonswood has provided for local councils dating back many years.

We only hope that the general public view this task for what it truly is: a difficult and often troubling job suitable for only the highest qualified private investigator professionals.

Lyonswood hopes that all illegal brothels are shut down and the girls who work in these establishments can be given the opportunity to secure successful lives in secure and safe jobs.

Click here to find out more about our additional private investigation services…