Numerous complaints of prostitution in downtown Mansfield led to an aggressive METRICH prostitution sting Thursday evening.
Several people were arrested on prostitution and solicitation charges, said METRICH Commander Lt. Keith Porch.
The operation stemmed from several calls from residents about “non-stop” prostitution along Third and Fourth streets, especially between Bowman Street and Rowland Avenue, Porch said. Several females were seen repeatedly walking up and down the street and getting picked up and dropped off by different vehicles, residents told police.
“That’s not to say it’s not going on elsewhere,” Porch said. “It’s so sporadic.
“In the summer we could have 10 to 15 cases, if that, or we could have that many in a year, but there are always complaints.”
Two undercover confidential informants assisted in the sting, Porch said. A female posed as a prostitute soliciting men, and a male informant posed as a man soliciting prostitutes, he said.
Prostitution and solicitation both are third-degree misdemeanors, he said.
The femalen informant started her tour along Third Street at about 6:30 p.m. Within five minutes, a car stopped and the driver asked the woman to “get in,” Porch said.
When she refused he took off, but circled the block for almost 30 minutes before stopping again.
“How much do you have in your pocket?” the informant asked. “Make me an offer.”
The male, referred to as a “John,” offered the informant $20 for sex, Porch said.
Police arrested the man for solicitation and possession of marijuana after a search of his vehicle yielded a marijuana cigar, Porch said.
A second John offered money for services around 9:30 p.m. Because he was a minor, Porch said, he was released to his parents and issued a summons in lieu of arrest.
Most other drivers that night would make repeated trips around the block, but never stop. For the ones who did stop, their conversations were short.
A male driver who stopped the woman informant around 7:10 p.m. asked her how long she’d been working the area, but never struck a deal, Porch said.
A third male driver would stop ten minutes later. He told the informant he was looking for a house, but then asked her what she was doing, Porch said. The male would drive by three times before stopping alongside the road for a brief time.
He never talked prices or services, Porch said.
The drive-by “game” Johns play — passing along the road several times, stopping to talk, and coming back around again — makes prostitution stings time-intensive, Porch said.
“It’s like fishing,” Porch said. “But you need that conversation.”
Porch said police will continue to investigate complaints of prostitution in the area, and welcome calls from the community.
“Once we receive a complaint, we’re able to target an area,” Porch said. “METRICH will have zero tolerance for prostitution activity in the community.”
Anyone with information about prostitution or solicitation in Mansfield is encouraged to contact the Mansfield Police Department at 419-522-1234 or the METRICH office at 419-755-9728.
Originally published in the News Journal on July 19, 2013.