Shelby, NC

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

Shelby is a city of roughly 20,000 residents in the western part of North Carolina, near the western edge of Charlotte. It is the county seat of Cleveland County, and is located about 20 miles west of Gastonia. Prostitution, sex trafficking, and child sex trafficking have been reported in the community for several years, and has been linked to at least one solicitation-related robbery.

Though local law enforcement’s efforts appear to have historically targeted sex sellers over buyers, the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has on at least one occasion taken proactive steps to reduce demand for commercial sex.

In January 2016, CCSO deputies announced the completion of a six-week long web-based reverse sting. Officers reportedly launched the investigation after receiving tips that a local resident had been creating fake profiles on social media accounts and soliciting women for prostitution through these websites. The CCSO worked closely with a confidential police informant, who corresponded with the sex buyer  and – after being offered money in exchange for sex – arranged to meet the man at a nearby community college campus. He was arrested upon arrival, and charged with “felony solicitation of a crime against nature and misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution.” His identity was publicized in the press.

In January 2019, police reported that a 17-year-old female made an arrangement on social media to meet a man at a hotel in Shelby, where she would provide sex in exchange for money. The teenager arrived with a 22-year-old man. They planned to rob the sex buyer without completing the transaction. The sex buyer shot at the car they were in, hitting the 17-year-old in the stomach. All three were arrested.

In July 2019, a Shelby man was jailed, with his bond set at $1 million, after he allegedly trafficked teen twin sisters from South Carolina to Cleveland County. According to local news reports, the 14-year-old twins met the man via Facebook and conversed with him over the messenger application. The man then allegedly went to the girls’ home in Blacksburg, South Carolina, and brought them back to Cleveland County. The man was charged with second-degree kidnapping, first-degree kidnapping, statutory rape of a child by an adult, two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile, two counts of solicitation by computer and two counts of human trafficking a child victim.

In February 2021, three Shelby men were charged with various sex crimes against a minor. The men had used social media to contact, manipulate, and victimize the minor. One man was charged with a crime against nature, statutory sexual offense by an adult, and indecent liberties with a child. The second was charged with human trafficking of a child victim, statutory rape, and indecent liberties with a child. The third was charged with statutory rape of a child.


Key Partners

  • Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings with Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • “BRIEF: Woman Faces Second Prostitution Charge,” Shelby Star, January 27 2010.
  • “Former Prostitute Wants to Help Shelby Streetwalkers Change Their Lives,” Shelby Star, September 4 2010.
  • “BRIEF: Shelby Woman Faces Prostitution Charge,” Shelby Star, December 7 2010.
  • “Police: Shelby Restaurant Owner Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting Charged $600 for Sex Services,” Shelby Star, March 4 2011.
  • “Escort Charged in Prostitution Sting Says She Didn’t Break the Law,” Shelby Star, March 6 2011.
  • “Shelby Restaurant Owner Appears in Court on Prostitution Charge,” Shelby Star, April 14 2011.
  • “Prostitution Case Postponed,” Shelby Star, May 12 2011.
  • “BRIEF: Police: $6 Sex Act Leads to Prostitution Charge,” Shelby Star, January 25 2012.
  • (2019)

Background on Child Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Casar Man IDs Suspect,” Shelby Star, February 20 2007.
State North Carolina
Type City
Population 20046
Comments are closed.