Alton, IL

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Alton is a city of approximately 25,000 residents in southwestern Illinois’s Madison County, near Edwardsville and St. Louis. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been documented locally since at least the early 1990s. Cases of assaults on individuals exploited in commercial sex and homicides of sex buyers have also been reported.

Among their efforts to reduce commercial sex sales and related crimes, the Alton Police Department (APD) has conducted reverse stings targeting individuals attempting to purchase sex. The APD has conducted such stings at street level since at least 2003, if not earlier. Officers and city officials have reported to local media that investigations have at times been launched in response to complaints from residents and businesses.

In 2007, APD officers conducted a web-based reversal, posting a decoy online advertisement on a website known for prostitution solicitation, and then placing a female undercover officer and support team in a local hotel to arrest sex buyers who responded to the listing and arranged to meet the decoy. Similarly, in January 2016, the APD intercepted seven sex buyers after the men responded to a decoy web listing placed by law enforcement. Soon after their arrests, the offenders’ names, ages, hometowns, and arrest photos were released to the public and carried in the Alton Telegraph.

In addition to sharing the identities of arrested sex buyers with the press, Alton police also post their mugshots and arrest information on the department’s website. The city has also sent letters to the homes of registered car owners whose vehicles have been seen circling blocks and pulling over to speak with women known to be engaging in prostitution. The letters do not accuse the owners of committing a crime; they instead express concern for the vehicle driver’s safety, saying that the area has high rates of crime, such as prostitution and drug dealing.

In 2022, a man was indicted April 14 for charged April 7 with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and child pornography, both enhanced Class X felonies; and three counts of child pornography, all Class 1 felonies. In the same year, the Alton Police Department conducted a series of online prostitution stings, resulting in several arrests. The operation was conducted by officers who posed as escorts on a website. The suspects contacted the officers via telephone and offered to pay for a variety of sexual acts. When the suspects arrived at the prearranged location, the suspects were arrested for solicitation of a sex act, a Class A Misdemeanor.  A variety of evidence was seized from the suspects.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Illinois
Type City
Population 25422
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