Tinicum Township, PA

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

Tinicum Township, more popularly known as “Tinicum Island,”  is a community in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Its population is approximately 4,000. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the town and other areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies. For example, in June, 2012 a joint task force with investigators from the Pennsylvania State Police, the FBI, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office and the Tinicum Police Department conducted an operation targeting prostitution in township hotels and motels. The investigation began earlier that year with a report of shots fired in a hotel near the Philadelphia International Airport. That investigation prompted police to take a closer look at prostitution in the area, and five women and one man were charged with prostitution and disorderly conduct.

Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. For example, in August, 2016, law enforcement officials in announcing the arrest of a man for 34 felony counts related to Trafficking of Individuals, Prostitution, Involuntary Servitude and other offenses. An extensive investigation showed that the defendant was illegally operating his human trafficking in a five-county region of Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Delaware County. This illegal operation was sophisticated and organized. The evidence showed that the defendant intentionally targeted women who were drug addicted and had little or no resources, and subjected them to involuntarily servitude through the use of violence, the threat of violence, coercion, duress and by providing or withdrawing access to the drugs to which the victims were addicted. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Montgomery County Detective Bureau were assisted with the investigation by the Tinicum Township Police and the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, in addition to multiple municipal police departments, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Chester County District Attorney’s Office,  Pennsylvania State Police and the FBI.

In November, 2016, a Tinicum Township police officer stopped a vehicle that had recently left a hotel known to be frequented by individuals engaged in prostitution. The driver admitted to the officer that he had just met a prostituted woman at the hotel and had arranged the “date” through a website called Backpage.com. Law enforcement went to the room that the customer had visited, and discovered a woman and two minor girls, condoms, and cell phones containing communications with a trafficker about the prostitution business.  That same month, a Newark, Delaware police officer, acting in an undercover capacity, responded to a Backpage ad offering commercial sex. When law enforcement arrived at the hotel for the “date,” they found a woman and a girl. In July 2017, the Philadelphia Police conducted a similar undercover operation, and when they arrived for the “date,” they found two adult women in the hotel room and the suspected trafficker waiting in his car.  All of the victims were fraudulently promised payment by the suspect and once enlisted in his trafficking circle, they were subjected to violent acts or fear based on observing violence against others.  Thus, all were trafficked by force, fraud, and coercion. The trafficker was eventually convicted and sentenced to 21 years in federal prison.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in December, 2022, the Delaware County District Attorney’s office announced that six men were arrested in a sting operation. All of the arrests all occurred in Tinicum Township, and the identities of the arrested men were included in press releases.  Two of the men were arrested after responding to an ad placed on an “escort service” website, with one man explicitly negotiating to purchase a minor fo sexual abuse.  The man responded to the ad, asking about the rate. The agent responded that “she” was 14. Knowing that the intended target was 14 years-old, the defendant agreed to pay $100 for access to sexually abuse the minor. The man was taken into custody on on felony counts of attempted trafficking in minors, attempted statutory sexual assault of a minor, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, and criminal use of a communication facility. The sting, led by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, included assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, as well as several municipal police departments (Ridley Police Department, the Lower Makefield Township Police Department, and the Tinicum Township Police Department).

Key Partners

  • Tinicum Township Police Department
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • Ridley Police Department
  • Lower Makefield Township Police Department


State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 4096
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