Bethlehem, PA

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

Bethlehem is a city of approximately 75,000 residents, located near Allentown in both Lehigh and Northampton Counties, Pennsylvania. Prostitution and sex trafficking cases have been reported in the area for years. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in complaints to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. Reports of targeted violence against individuals engaging in prostitution, drugs, and theft have been documented occurring during commercial sex transactions in the city.

To address mounting complaints from residents, the Bethlehem Police Department began conducting street-level reverse stings in 1985. A series of operations was carried out in the 1990s, at times netting as many as 16 male sex buyers in a single evening. Police have at times released arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the local media.

In the third annual Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania by Villanova University’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE Institute), Northampton was one of 10 Pennsylvania counties in which the number of individuals charged with violations of the state’s sex buying statute (§ 5902(e)) outnumbered the charged with violations of § 5902(a) for engaging in prostitution since the state criminal code created separate offenses for sex buyers and prostituted persons in 2014. The 10 counties were: Adams, Beaver, Bradford, Centre, Franklin, Lebanon, McKean, Mercer, Monroe, and Northampton.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Local Prostitution:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 72531
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