Easton, 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

Easton is a city of approximately 28,000 residents in eastern Pennsylvania, located in Northampton County, PA, on the eastern edge of the Lehigh Valley near Allentown and Bethlehem. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented problems in the city and greater county area for decades. This activity and its ancillary crimes has resulted in reports to local law enforcement from residents and businesses. A number of serious problems resulting from the local commercial sex market have been documented, including the unsolved murder of prostituted women and girls, and child sex trafficking.

Efforts to combat prostitution and sex trafficking have included those focused on reducing the demand for commercial sex in the area, by targeting sex buyers and sex traffickers. For example, the Easton Police Department conducted its first street-level reverse sting in June 1988, resulting in the arrest of 37 male sex buyers. Frequent, small-scale reverse sting operations continued through the mid-1990s, with officers averaging three to five arrests in a single operation. Since 1988, arrestees’ names have been publicized in local media outlets.

Easton police reported that street prostitution remains visible in some Easton neighborhoods, and cases of sex trafficking have been documented. In 2008, city officials tried to ameliorate the problems by focusing on demand. The city established an ordinance that allows local law enforcement to seize the vehicles of individuals arrested for solicitation. Under the ordinance, vehicles may not only be seized but also sold at auction, with the proceeds given to the city. Soon after its enactment, the policy was challenged in a lawsuit against the Easton Police Department, when an arrested sex buyer alleged that the value associated with a forfeited vehicle often exceeded the “maximum fine allowable” for a solicitation offense. Soon after, a court demanded all seized vehicles be returned. Today, while the ordinance remains formally in place, it is largely unused.

Easton police continue to encourage (and participate in ongoing dialogue with) local Neighborhood Watch programs to report any and all suspected prostitution activity and have installed surveillance cameras in known problem areas.

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey (2012)

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Auto Seizure:

Neighborhood Action, Cameras:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaging in Commercial Sex Activity:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 28127
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