Macon County, IL

Tactics Used

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

Macon County, Illinois, is located east of Springfield and has a population of about 100,000.  Its county seat and largest city is Decatur (a city of approximately 72,000 residents).   Serious problems related to prostitution, including the trafficking and exploitation of minors for commercial sex, have been reported in the city for over two decades. In 1991, for example, a 16-year-old girl was trafficked out of Decatur by an adult pimp who prostituted her in Milwaukee, murdered her, and dumped her body near a public hunting ground in Dane County, Wisconsin. Three years later, in an unrelated case, a 15-year-old prostituted girl was convicted of murdering a john in what the Decatur Police Department described at the time as “a prostitution deal gone bad.” More recently, two police reports of robberies of sex buyers, as well as a case of forced prostitution of a 14-year-old girl, have been documented in the city since 2011.

In an effort to reduce prostitution activity in the area, Decatur Police and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office have conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1990. Following an operation in March 1991, the Decatur Herald & Review reported that DPD officers used cameras during a reversal to record buyers’ attempts to solicit undercover female officers. Law enforcement still conduct reverse stings in the city periodically, but do not appear to release the identities of those arrested to the public.  More recent examples include a reverse sting in December 2014, in which six men, including a former detective with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, were each charged with solicitation of a sexual act during an operation by the Decatur Police Street Crimes Unit. The men were arrested when they responded to an ad on a website that advertised the services of a prostituted woman who would be in Decatur. They each allegedly offered to pay an undercover female officer a fee of between $40 and $100. They were all issued notices to appear in court for their arraignments on the misdemeanor charges in January 2015. Each defendant was charged in circuit court with one count of solicitation, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail or probation. The identities of all the arrested sex buyers were included in news releases.

In March, 2019, a 25-year-old man was arrested after meeting with a woman he encountered online and paying her for sexual acts.  They had online discussions of exchanging sexual acts for money; after the pair met, the woman allegedly demanded $400 from the man or threatened to call the police and say he raped her. The two suspects went to an ATM, the man withdrew money and gave it to the woman. While this was happening, she told him she was being forced into prostitution. The man notified police of the incident, thus turning himself in. The man was arrested on preliminary charges of solicitation of a sexual act. Preliminary charges are subject to review by the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office. The Decatur Police Department is investigating the matter and is trying to locate the woman to hear her side of the story, Carroll said.

Key Partners

  • Macon County Sheriff’s Office
  • Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office
  • Decatur Police Department


Key Sources

John Arrests:

Reverse Stings:

  • “Three Nabbed on Charges of Soliciting for Sex”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 16 1990.
  • “Prostitution Crackdown Snags 10”, Decatur Herald & Review, March 9 1991.
  • “‘Operation Safe Sex’ Nets 14 Johns, 4 Hookers, 1 Pimp”, Decatur Herald & Review, November 29 1993.
  • “Prostitution Sting; Decatur Police Arrest 4 Men on Soliciting Charges”, Decatur Herald & Review, June 11 1994.
  • “Police Find New Weapons against Oldest Profession; Tactics Change in Battle against Prostitution”, Decatur Herald & Review, June 13 1994.
  • “Prostitution Sting Ends with Arrests of 15 Men”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 15 1996.
  • “Principal Suspended after Arrest; Eisenhower High School Administrator Cited in Weekend Prostitution Sting”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 16 1996.
  • “Principal Charged in Prostitution Case”, Peoria Journal Star, July 17 1996.
  • “Why DID We Publish That Name?”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 21 1996.
  • “Ex-Principal Acquitted in Prostitution Case”, Peoria Journal Star, March 12 1997.
  • “Anatomy of a Sting; An Undercover Operation Tests the Planning, Cooperation and Nerves of Police Officers”, Decatur Herald & Review, August 16 1998.
  • “11 Arrested for Allegedly Soliciting Prostitutes near Downtown”, Decatur Herald & Review, September 10 2006.

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:


  • “Prostitution Crackdown Snags 10”, Decatur Herald & Review, March 9 1991.

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Former Escort Service Operator Gets Probation”, Decatur Herald & Review, December 8 1990.
  • “Three Charged as Prostitutes”, Decatur Herald & Review, August 2 1992.
  • “Taking a Stand; Tired of Surrendering Their Streets to Prostitution and Drugs, Inner City Residents Are Coming Out from Behind Locked Doors to Fight Crime”, Decatur Herald & Review, October 18 1992.
  • “Low Bond Requested in HIV Case; Infected Woman Charged with Offering Unprotected Sex Wants to Attend Drug Therapy”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 15 1995.
  • “HIV-Infected Woman Charged with Prostitution Freed on Bail”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 28 1995.
  • “Briefs; Woman Arrested in Raid on Spa”, Decatur Herald & Review, June 29 1997.
  • “Suspected Prostitution Site Remains Open; Decatur Health Spa Employee Continues to Face Charges in Undercover Case”, Decatur Herald & Review, August 4 1997.
  • “Residents Like Their ‘Security Blanket’; Crime Prevention Plan Includes Blocked Roads to Save Neighborhoods”, Decatur Herald & Review, July 5 1998.
  • “Sting Nets 13 Arrests for Prostitution; Complaints Drew Police to Old King’s Orchard”, Decatur Herald & Review, September 1 2006.
  • “Prosecutors Mull Charges for Woman”, Decatur Herald & Review, April 26 2012.
  • “Decatur Man Trying to Ward Off Prostitutes with Sign”, NBC/WAND-TV 17, June 11 2012.
State Illinois
Type County
Population 105801
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