Carlisle is a small city near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with a population of about 38,000. The city is known to have been on regional sex trafficking circuits since the 1980s, if not before, and local prostitution has been a persistent problem. In 2005, the city was reported to be a major “transfer” point in a dismantled child sex trafficking network. The need for enhanced law enforcement regarding prostitution in the area was heightened by increased scrutiny after the body of a 44-year-old woman was spotted by a motorist along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Plainfield. Investigators throughout the country added the woman’s name to a list of more than 30 women who fell victim to what they believe is a ring of truckers who have targeted and killed women involved in prostitution. One of the other victims was last seen alive at the Middlesex truck stop area where she was engaging in prostitution. In February 2004, a 16-year-old girl was found along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Middlesex truck stops, near mile marker 232 in Silver Spring Township. The girl acknowledged she was engaged in prostitution and her assailant was a man who she believed would pay for sex acts.
Reverse stings and other tactics focusing on consumer-level demand have been deployed at truck stops with women serving as decoys, soliciting offers from johns traveling through the area. In 2004, local truck stop representatives joined local law enforcement agencies to announce increased enforcement to combat ongoing problems with prostitution in Middlesex Township and Carlisle, and nearby communities in Cumberland County. The district attorney said all truck stop management in the Middlesex Township area agreed to post “no trespass, no soliciting, no loitering” signs at their businesses to allow authorities to make on the spot arrests of prostitutes. The signs also were posted throughout the area. Police committed to conducting undercover stings at truck plazas and motels, increase patrols and monitor and record citizen band radio traffic. Anyone arrested for prostitution or solicitation of a prostitute will be detained and photographed. The maximum penalty is up to a year in prison. Law enforcement also would immediately contact the family and employer of any person arrested. The district attorney said illegal sex acts in cars will warrant a detainment and search of the vehicle for trace evidence.
Carlisle is one of several communities in the area that have conducted “truck stop crackdowns” featuring reverse stings, along with Middlesex Township, West Hanover Township, and Cumberland County. If johns are using commercial vehicles while soliciting, the police seize the vehicles and the employer/vehicle owner is notified and a $400 fine must be paid to retrieve the vehicle. In a rarely-used practice, female criminal justice students had been used used as decoys in reverse stings at the truck stops.
- Carlisle Police Department
- Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Police Stings Curtail Prostitution at Harrisburg-Area Truck Stops; Alleged Ring of Toledoans Had Flourished in Pennsylvania”, Toledo Blade, March 20 2006.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Woman Goes to Trial on Prostitution Charges”, Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 29 1993.
- “City Woman Cleared of Enticing Youth”, Harrisburg Patriot-News, September 18 1993.
- “Toledoan Linked to Prostitution Ring; Indictment Alleges Multistate Operation that Recruited Underage Girls”, Toledo Blade, November 19 2005.
- “I-81 Offers Law-Enforcement Challenges”, Lebanon Daily News, January 17 2011.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Police Roundup; Cumberland County; Carlisle; Prostitution Arrests”, Harrisburg Patriot-News, September 9 2004.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Officer Ordered to Trial on Rape, Assault Charges”, Harrisburg Patriot-News, July 13 2004.
- “Verdicts Will Cost Officer His Badge”, Harrisburg Patriot-News, March 12 2005.