Reading, PA

Tactics Used

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

Reading is a city in southeastern Pennsylvania with a population of approximately 80,000, near Allentown. The community has reported chronic problems with prostitution, as well as cases of sex trafficking of minors, robberies of attempted sex buyers, and targeted sexual assaults of women engaged in commercial sex.

The Reading Police Department has been conducting reverse stings since 1976 on a periodic basis. Complaints from residents is one of the key reasons police conduct prostitution operations.  According to RPD representatives surveyed for the National Assessment, the city conducts about three or four reverse stings per year.  They also said that they have sent “Dear John” letters to the addresses of registered owners of autos seen attempting to engage prostituted women (since 2007), and released the identities of arrestees to the media (since 1995).  The “Dear John” letters are intended to be educational rather than accusatory.  Surveillance cameras and public education efforts have been used to deter johns.

A nonprofit organization, Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved (FREE), has engaged in educational activities that focus on the need to reduce demand for commercial sex among other topics.  For example, they hope to reduce demand by educating men about the negative conditions and outcomes of those working in commercial sex.

Key Partners

  • Reading Police Department
  • Allentown Police Department
  • FREE (Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved)

Key Sources

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 80769
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