Pismo Beach, CA

Tactics Used

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

Pismo Beach is a city of approximately 8,000 residents, located in southern San Luis Obispo County, California. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. To combat the array of problems stemming from commercial sex, local law enforcement agencies have conducted periodic reverse stings since at least 2013, and perhaps longer.  For example, in September 2013, Pismo Beach Police Department officers collaborated with their counterparts in nearby Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo on a three-day web sting targeting both sex buyers and prostituted women. Officers posted and responded to advertisements soliciting sex on MyRedbook.com, and arranged to meet individuals who replied at nearby hotels.  When asked about the impetus for and timing of the operation, law enforcement officers stated that they had hoped ”to discourage prostitutes and their clients from hooking up in local cities after two incidents of alleged violent rape, assault and robbery against prostitutes occurred in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo hotels earlier” in 2013. In a press release, the San Luis Obispo Police Department stated that “during the investigations of these and other crimes, officers learned that many such violent attacks on prostitutes occur quite frequently but are rarely reported by the victim. They fear they will be prosecuted for their illegal activity.” For this reason, area officers decided to join forces to “enforce prostitution laws” and “bring to the public’s attention the hazards of soliciting a prostitute or performing the services of prostitution.

Key Partners

  • Pismo Beach Police Department
  • San Luis Obispo Police Department
  • Arroyo Grande Police Department

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 8237
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