Decatur, 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

Decatur is a city of approximately 70,000 residents, located east of Springfield in Macon County, Illinois. Serious problems related to prostitution, including the trafficking and exploitation of minors for commercial sex, have been reported in the city for over two decades. In 1991, for example, a 16-year-old girl was trafficked out of Decatur by an adult pimp who trafficked her in Milwaukee, murdered her, and dumped her body near a public hunting ground in Dane County, Wisconsin. Three years later, in an unrelated case, a 15-year-old sex trafficked girl was convicted of murdering a male sex buyer in what the Decatur Police Department described at the time as “a prostitution deal gone bad.” More recently, two police reports of robberies of sex buyers, as well as a case of trafficking a 14-year-old girl for paid sexual abuse, have been documented in the city since 2011.

In an effort to reduce prostitution activity in the area, Decatur Police and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office have conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1990. Following an operation in March 1991, the Decatur Herald & Review reported that DPD officers used cameras during a reversal to record sex buyers’ attempts to solicit undercover female officers. Law enforcement still conduct reverse stings in the city periodically, and sometimes releases the identities of those arrested to the public.

More recent examples include a reverse sting in December 2014, in which six men, including a former detective with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, were each charged with solicitation of a sexual act during an operation by the Decatur Police Street Crimes Unit. The men were arrested when they responded to an ad on a website that advertised the services of a prostituted woman who would be in Decatur. They each allegedly offered to pay an undercover female officer a fee of between $40 and $100. They were all issued notices to appear in court for their arraignments on the misdemeanor charges in January 2015. Each defendant was charged in circuit court with one count of solicitation, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail or probation. The identities of all the arrested sex buyers were included in news releases.

In February, 2021, police arrested a man during a web-based reverse sting:  Police placed an advertisement on a website known for prostitution/sex trafficking using a Decatur Police officer who was posing as a prostituted woman. The officer had conversations with the man by phone and they agreed to meet to have sex in exchange for $150. The suspect also agreed to give the officer one gram of cocaine and $40.  During a meeting at a Decatur hotel, the officer gave the arrest team the signal to make the arrest. The man resisted arrest, struggling for several minutes and police shot him with a stun gun and took him to the ground.  The man was booked on preliminary charges of solicitation of a sexual act, resisting police, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and possession of cannabis with intent to deliver.

Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Reverse Stings:

  • “Three Nabbed on Charges of Soliciting for Sex”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 16 1990.
  • “Prostitution Crackdown Snags 10”, Decatur Herald & Review, March 9 1991.
  • “‘Operation Safe Sex’ Nets 14 Johns, 4 Hookers, 1 Pimp”, Decatur Herald & Review, November 29 1993.
  • “Prostitution Sting; Decatur Police Arrest 4 Men on Soliciting Charges”, Decatur Herald & Review, June 11 1994.
  • “Police Find New Weapons against Oldest Profession; Tactics Change in Battle against Prostitution”, Decatur Herald & Review, June 13 1994.
  • “Prostitution Sting Ends with Arrests of 15 Men”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 15 1996.
  • “Principal Suspended after Arrest; Eisenhower High School Administrator Cited in Weekend Prostitution Sting”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 16 1996.
  • “Principal Charged in Prostitution Case”, Peoria Journal Star, July 17 1996.
  • “Why DID We Publish That Name?”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 21 1996.
  • “Ex-Principal Acquitted in Prostitution Case”, Peoria Journal Star, March 12 1997.
  • “Anatomy of a Sting; An Undercover Operation Tests the Planning, Cooperation and Nerves of Police Officers”, Decatur Herald & Review, August 16 1998.
  • “11 Arrested for Allegedly Soliciting Prostitutes near Downtown”, Decatur Herald & Review, September 10 2006.

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:


  • “Prostitution Crackdown Snags 10”, Decatur Herald & Review, March 9 1991.

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Former Escort Service Operator Gets Probation”, Decatur Herald & Review, December 8 1990.
  • “Three Charged as Prostitutes”, Decatur Herald & Review, August 2 1992.
  • “Taking a Stand; Tired of Surrendering Their Streets to Prostitution and Drugs, Inner City Residents Are Coming Out from Behind Locked Doors to Fight Crime”, Decatur Herald & Review, October 18 1992.
  • “Low Bond Requested in HIV Case; Infected Woman Charged with Offering Unprotected Sex Wants to Attend Drug Therapy”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 15 1995.
  • “HIV-Infected Woman Charged with Prostitution Freed on Bail”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 28 1995.
  • “Briefs; Woman Arrested in Raid on Spa”, Decatur Herald & Review, June 29 1997.
  • “Suspected Prostitution Site Remains Open; Decatur Health Spa Employee Continues to Face Charges in Undercover Case”, Decatur Herald & Review, August 4 1997.
  • “Residents Like Their ‘Security Blanket’; Crime Prevention Plan Includes Blocked Roads to Save Neighborhoods”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 5 1998.
  • “Sting Nets 13 Arrests for Prostitution; Complaints Drew Police to Old King’s Orchard”, Decatur Herald & Review, September 1 2006.
  • “Prosecutors Mull Charges for Woman”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 26 2012.
  • “Decatur Man Trying to Ward Off Prostitutes with Sign”, NBC/WAND-TV 17, June 11 2012.
  • (2023)
State Illinois
Type City
Population 69646
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