Bethlehem Township, 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 Township is a township of approximately 25,000 residents, located in the suburbs of Bethlehem in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. As in the neighboring communities of Palmer Township, Hanover Township, and Easton, Bethlehem Township has reported problems related to prostitution– particularly with commercial sex activity occurring at local motels and hotels. There has also been at least one case of targeted homicide of a prostituted woman. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is the endangerment of children brought along in prostitution transactions, and adult and child sex trafficking.

In their efforts to reduce local prostitution activity, the Bethlehem Township Police Department has conducted at least two reverse stings targeting sex buyers. Both operations were staged at local hotels, with the consent and cooperation of hotel staff. While the details of the first operation, conducted in July 2013, were not disclosed (although we do know that nine johns were arrested as a result), officers provided some insight into the logistics of the second operation. In March 2014, the BTPD placed decoy advertisements both offering and requesting commercial sex to a website known for prostitution. As individuals responded to the listing, undercover officers arranged to meet the men and women at a nearby hotel. Three johns, two women offering acts of prostitution, and one pimp were arrested as a result; all of the arrestees had their names, ages, and addresses released to the public.

On at least one occasion, law enforcement have also encountered minor children present during commercial sex transactions in the Township. For example, in November 2015, media outlets reported that a sex trafficker/pimp from nearby Freemansburg had allegedly brought his 7-year-old son in tow when dropping off a woman to what he thought was a prostitution encounter (but was in fact an undercover sting). In December of that year, the man was sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison for promoting prostitution and endangering the welfare of a child. His identity was publicized heavily in press.

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaging in Commercial Sex, Child Endangerment:

  • Despite acquittal, doubts remain (1997)
  • “Freemansburg Man Admits Taking Son, 7, to Prostitution Rendezvous,” Allentown Morning Call, November 19 2015.
  • “Freemansburg Pimp who Brought 7-Year-Old Son to Undercover Sting Sentenced,” Allentown Morning Call, December 18 2015.

Background on Local Prostitution:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 25886
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