Erie, 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

Erie is the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania, with a population of approximately 100,000.  It is an industrial city located in the northwestern part of the state, bordering Lake Erie.  And documented cases of prostitution and sex trafficking in the city date back to the 1950s. For example, in November, 1952 Erie police arrest two women and two men believed to be part of a downtown prostitution ring, and a third woman was wanted by police. Authorities surveilled an unnamed restaurant believed to be the base of the ring for four weeks before a plainclothes officer paid $20 to a woman and then arrested her as she got into his car. One of the men arrested was a bartender at the restaurant. Cases of sex trafficking minors in Erie date back to the early 1990s.  Other prostitution-related crimes in the city include the assault and rape of prostituted women.

The Erie Police Department has been using reverse stings as a demand reduction tactic, beginning in the 1970s.  In an associated press report from 1977, the Chief of Police explained a new focus on prostitution “customers” –  “We’ve been picking the girls up, but all they do is leave town and others take their place.  We’re trying to dry up their source of income.”  Reverse stings have continued since then.  Prostitution is still active on the streets as well as occurring is storefront brothels, such as massage parlors.  Erie has had very involved Neighborhood Watch programs that aid police in pinpointing areas of heavy prostitution.  In Pennsylvania, a single count of a prostitution charge is a misdemeanor, and multiple counts elevate the offense to the felony range.

Key Partners

  • Erie Police Department

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 103650
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