High Point, NC

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

High Point is a city of approximately 114,000 residents located in Guilford County, near Winston-Salem and Greensboro. A key feature of the city, which is related to the local prostitution activity, is the world’s largest home furnishings exhibition. In the spring and fall of each year, a week-long trade show attracts an estimated 140,000 attendees from over 100 countries. A study by High Point University found that these exhibitions are the state’s largest economic events (Fox et al., 2007). The influx of visitors coincides with an increase in demand.

Prostitution has been a persistent problem in the city; 651 prostituted persons were arrested between 2003 and 2008 alone. Complaints from High Point residents and businesses influence where and when police conduct reverse stings and other anti-prostitution efforts. The High Point Police Department routinely conducts street-level reverse stings and has employed this tactic since 1985. Officers began using web-based stings in 2009. Since the 1990s, citizens have been encouraged to contact police with any information that may help them identify prostituted women and sex buyers. More recently (e.g., 2020), city leaders have affirmed the presence of persistent sex trafficking, and prostitution problems in the area’s hotels, organized via the internet.

Once arrested, offenders are may have their names and identities released to the public. Repeat offenders may face up to 6-12 months in prison.

Examples of how the city has attempted to combat demand for commercial sex include:

Reverse Stings:

  • Street-level reverse stings began in 1985, according to a survey respondent from the High Point Police Department. They occur several times per year, and in some years as many as 35 reverse stings have occurred.  The average is about 3 reverse stings per year.
  • In the spring of 1996 police canceled a planned reverse sting near the furniture show, amid allegations that the police bowed to pressure from the furniture industry. In the fall of that year, police conducted a reverse sting, arresting 17 men for soliciting female police decoys.
  • Demand Forum’s National Assessment study through 2011 gathered information on 15 reverse stings, resulting in the arrest of 67 men. The operations typically last five hours and involve one decoy, and a support team of unknown size, each reverse sting results in about five sex buyer arrests.
  • More recent examples include an operation in September 2021, in which police made 14 arrests for prostitution and “solicitation of prostitutes”, after receiving complaints from people across the city. Members of the High Point Police Department Vice Unit conducted numerous undercover operations targeting suspected “street prostitutes” and people “suspected to be looking for prostitutes.” The undercover investigation took place on the street level, focused mainly on streets frequented by prostituted persons. It also involved monitoring a website used by prostituted persons to promote their activities. Police say prostitution takes place across High Point, through “hot spots”, including the W. Green Drive corridor near W. Ward Avenue and Ward to S. Elm Street. An additional reverse sting took place in June 2022, resulting in the arrest of thirteen people on charges including prostitution and solicitation of prostitution.

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

  • The first known web reverse sting occurred in 2006, using a decoy ad placed on Craigslist. Most of the reverse stings in High Point are street-level and do not use the internet.

Other Sex Buyer Arrests:

  • Not all arrests of sex buyers are the product of reverse stings using policy decoys; instead, they may be the result of investigations of allegations against offenders with real victims. For example, in February 2018, three men were charged in connection to a human trafficking case in High Point. High Point police report they responded to a call on Piedmont Crossing Drive after a neighbor reported a suspicious car in their neighborhood. Police said that a car was driving through the neighborhood, stopping in various driveways, but no one was leaving or entering the car. When police arrived, they found the car in the driveway of a home. The driver was charged with “solicitation for prostitution” and was only given a citation with a court date. The man who owned the home was arrested and charged with felony human trafficking. The passenger in the car was charged with a misdemeanor, for conspiring to commit prostitution. A 19-year-old girl was found inside the Piedmont Crossing residence, and police discovered signs of human trafficking that same night. The girl did not face charges. The sex buyer’s identity was disclosed in news reports.

Identity Disclosure: 

  • Identities of men arrested for soliciting prostitution are released to the media after police perform reverse stings.

Dear John Letters:

  • In 2000, letters were sent to the owners of cars seen in areas known for prostitution, especially those being used in a manner that suggested the drivers were interested in soliciting sex from women engaged in prostitution.

Key Partners

  • High Point Police Department
  • High Point Police Department Vice Unit
  • Community groups and residents providing tips and lodge complaints with police

Key Sources

National Assessment Survey and Interview

Information on High Point Police Department’s Drug Market Intervention Model and Its Implications for Commercial Sex Activity:

Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure:

Other Arrests of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State North Carolina
Type City
Population 114059
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