Elkhart, IN

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

Elkhart is a city of approximately 53,000 residents, located just east of South Bend in Elkhart County, Indiana. Elkhart County is part of the Elkhart-Goshen Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in turn is part of the South Bend-Elkhart-Mishawaka Combined Statistical Area. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, including the city of Elkhart. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Armed robbery of sex buyers and the sex trafficking of women with disabilities have also been documented locally. For example, in September, 2016, a man who was with a prostituted woman was robbed. A gun was held to the man’s head while two accomplices looted the home, taking a car, two televisions, a video game console, and an undisclosed amount of cash. Nine months later, police were still looking for the woman who was allegedly at the center of a string of robberies involving victims who were held up at gunpoint after meeting for paid sex through the classifieds website Backpage.com. The woman was linked to at least eight similar cases in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, and across the Michigan state line in Berrien County. Each of the victims reported arranging meetings with the suspect through Backpage before being robbed by male accomplices.

In January, 2019, a local woman was accused of exploiting another woman is prostitution. She was charged with two Level 5 felony counts of promoting prostitution stemming from a human trafficking sting by the Indiana State Police and Elkhart County’s Intelligence and Covert Enforcement Unit. A detective had arranged through an online ad to meet a woman at the a motel in Elkhart in March 2018. One woman went into a room where the detective was waiting, offered sex for money and was then taken into custody. The pimp was in a car outside and was also taken into custody. Police interviewed the prostituted woman and learned she had a learning disability and was diagnosed with the maturity of a 10-year-old child, the affidavit showed. The charges against the trafficker were filed in Elkhart County Superior Court.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and their related crimes, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, the Elkhart Police Department has been conducting street-level reverse stings since 2005. While reverse stings are conducted routinely, major efforts are executed approximately four times per year. Publicizing the identities of those arrested has occurred in the local media, as well as being posting on the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office’s website. The Elkhart Police Department has also posted videos of their reverse sting operations. Those arrested are often sentenced to some sort of geographical restriction. The community of Elkhart is very active in voicing their concerns, so neighborhood watch and public education programs are also in effect.

Key Partners

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey

Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Auto Seizure:

Background on Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related Crimes (robbery, trafficking persons with disabilities) in the Area:

State Indiana
Type City
Population 52657
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