York, 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

York is a city of approximately 45,000 residents, located in York County in south-central Pennsylvania. To curtail commercial sex and its related crimes in the city, the York City Police Department has used patrol officers to conduct anti-prostitution investigations – both reverse stings targeting sex buyers, and stings targeting prostituted women.  The Chief of Police says the teams have been very successful at running prostitution details, and that giving patrol officers the freedom to investigate crimes like prostitution takes the burden off of detectives and allows officers to develop critical investigative and undercover skills.

YCPD street-level reverse stings have proven quite successful (at times netting 10 sex buyers in a single operation), and in 2012 the department diversified its approach to include web-based stings. In October 2012, police placed a decoy listing advertising sex to Backpage.com. When johns replied to the advertisement and arranged to meet with an undercover officer at a local hotel, they were apprehended by police. Although city law enforcement reserves the right to disclose the identities of arrested sex buyers (and may do so on occasion), the names of the men involved were not made public.

In the third annual Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania by Villanova University’s Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE Institute), in was reported that eight people were arrested and charged with violations of the state’s sex buying statute (§ 5902(e)) between the time since the state criminal code created separate offenses for buying and selling sex in 2014 through 2017.

Key Partners

  • York City Police Department


Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Web Stings:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Pennsylvania
Type City
Population 44834
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