Hanover Township is a township of approximately 11,000 residents, located near Bethlehem in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Though a fairly small community, residents and local law enforcement have reported an increase in prostitution activity in recent years. Notably, the Colonial Regional Police Department received complaints about prostitution occurring in at least seven hotels in the township between 2010 and 2011. In response, the CRPD collaborated with the Bethlehem Township Police Department to conduct a web sting targeting sex buyers in February 2012. The operation was the first of its kind in the township, though police had conducted five prior web stings targeting prostituted women.
In their efforts, police posted a decoy advertisement online and arranged to meet those who responded to the listing at a local hotel. In just under six hours, 5 johns were arrested. In December 2012, a second sting was conducted with similar success– 8 johns were arrested. In April 2013, the CRPD conducted a “combination” web sting, resulting in the arrest of 10 johns (and 6 prostituted women). In the days after each operation, arrestees’ names and other identifying information were publicized in local media outlets. In June 2013, a man was arrested for soliciting an undercover officer; it is not clear whether this occurred during a reverse sting, or whether the undercover officer was not a prostitution decoy and this was an opportunistic arrest.
Web-Based Reverse Stings & Shaming:
- “Five Alleged Johns Charged in Internet Prostitution Sting”, Allentown Morning Call, February 22 2012.
- “8 Arrested in Connection with Prostitution Sting; Former Lower Nazareth Official Among the Accused”, WFMZ-TV 69, December 17 2012.
- “Lehigh Valley Prostitution Sting Ensnares 16, Police Say”, Easton Express-Times, April 22 2013.
- “Allen Township Man Charged during Colonial Regional Police Prostitution Sting,” Easton Express-Times, June 17 2013.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area: