Lancaster, 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

Lancaster is a city of approximately 58,000 residents, located in southeast Pennsylvania. It is the county seat and largest city in Lancaster County. Prostitution has posed persistent and visible problems in the area, and has generated numerous complaints to police. The community has also documented numerous cases of sex trafficking of minors and adults, and the targeted murders of women who has been sexually exploited and trafficked.

To reduce the consumer-level demand for commercial sex that drives all prostitution, sex trafficking, and related crimes, the Lancaster Police Department has incorporated the use of street-level reverse stings in 1993.  They have been conducted on a routine basis at times. Operations involve the use of an undercover female officer as a decoy. When sex buyers solicit sex from the officer, they are promptly arrested. Police often release arrestees’ names, ages, photos, and other identifying information to the local media.

In June 2015, for example, a female undercover LPD officer posed as a decoy “in a neighborhood where residents reported prostitution and illegal behavior,” apprehending nine male sex buyers in the process. All of the arrestees’ names ran in press. Similar operations in July and October of 2018 produced the arrest of 10 and 9 sex buyers, respectively, in reverse stings conducted in various sections of Lancaster City. The encounters occurred in neighborhoods that are regularly frequented by actual street level prostitutes that often occur in residential neighborhoods. Authorities say prostitution is an ongoing problem in Lancaster City neighborhoods, and is directly linked to drug and alcohol addiction affecting both prostitutes and customers.

Key Partners

  • Lancaster Police Department
  • Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 57503
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