Lincoln, NE

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Lincoln is the capital and second-largest city in Nebraska, with about 275,000 residents. Prostitution has been a persistent and visible problem in the area, and the sex trafficking of minors in Lincoln is well documented. Robberies of johns have also been documented. Community members have complained to local law enforcement about an increase in public solicitation for commercial sex.  For example, In 2006, Lincoln police arrested four  men and cited a fifth after they allegedly propositioned an undercover officer posing as a prostitute. The reverse sting came just hours after the Chief of Police and two police sergeants met with about 40 neighbors at the F Street Community Center to hear their concerns about prostitution, drugs and petty theft in the Everett and South Salt Creek neighborhoods.

To address these issues, the Lincoln Police Department has incorporated the use of street-level reverse stings to identify and apprehend sex buyers. “Traditional” reversals (i.e., those using a female undercover officer as a decoy on city streets) have been conducted since at least 2004, if not earlier.  The names of those arrested in stings are routinely publicized in press.

LPD officers have also conducted ad hoc stings targeting johns; in November 1996, for example, the department announced the arrest of a city resident after he had responded to an ad suggesting prostitution in a local newspaper. Unbeknownst to the john, Lincoln police had already investigated the advertisement and arrested the woman who had placed it on prostitution-charges. Undercover officers then continued to field calls from individuals as they responded to the listing, intercepting at least one sex buyer in the process.

In 2005, the LPD extended its efforts by tracking Lincoln men attempting to purchase sex online. Using websites like Craigslist and, the LPD conducted several web-based reverse stings. Officers posted several decoy advertisements and arranged meetings with the johns that replied. In August 2008, for example, one such operation resulted in the arrest of a man attempting to solicit sex from what he thought was a minor. The john was charged and sentenced with attempted first-degree sexual assault.

In 2015, law enforcement conducted two larger-scale reverse stings in September and December in Lincoln, netting 23 johns in the process. The logistical details of both operations– specifically, whether they were conducted at street level or using web-based advertisements– were not disclosed, although the identities of arrestees were publicized in press. Following the September reversal, a LPD representative commented to the Lincoln Journal Star:

“With any business, which people consider prostitution and human trafficking part of a business, there’re two sides to it, supply and demand. If you can affect one of those, or both of them, it should theoretically drive down the problem. That’s what this operation was about, lowering the demand and arresting the johns.”

In January 2019, multiple people were arrested in an undercover prostitution sting in Lincoln, including one man charged with soliciting prostitution. Lincoln Police undercover officers responded to several advertisements offering sexual services with prostitutes.  Officers set up meetings at a hotel, as part of the operation. In February 2019, a man targeted in a sex trafficking investigation was arrested for buying sex in Lincoln.

In February, 2021 a Lincoln man was arrested following a child enticement investigation, and held in the Lancaster County Jail on the following charges: sex trafficking of a minor, sexual assault of a child, violation of the sex offender registry act, solicit prostitution and child abuse.  The investigation began after investigators received information that the suspect was contacting young females on various online chat rooms “with the express purpose of providing marijuana for sex.”  Three victims were identified; 14, 15 and 16 years old.  The man was a registered sex offender based upon a conviction of sexual assault of a minor in 2005.

Key Partners

  • Lincoln Police Department
  • Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

State Nebraska
Type City
Population 272996
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