Year-long Prostitution Crackdown Drives On-Line Escorts Out of Roseville

Updated: 12/07/2012 10:15 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer

Roseville police are wrapping up a year-long crackdown on prostitution. It's been so successful they say they've essentially driven on-line escorts out of the city.

The operation started with an-online search for their town, under the "escorts" section of backpage.com. According to Roseville Police Detective Matthew Brake, "Primarily that's where we're seeing it."

It's where police could locate pretty much every prostitute willing to come to Roseville, to offer up services.

"People look at prostitution as a victimless crime," Brake said, "but assaults come with it, robberies come with it."

And dealing with those kinds of problems eats up valuable police resources, costs taxpayer money, and makes residents angry.

According to Roseville Police Lt. Lorne Rosand, "They say 'what is happening in my neighborhood?', you know, 'crime is running rampant'. That is not the case. Your neighbor brought it into the neighborhood."

Police would then arrange to meet the would-be escorts at one of five Roseville motels. They've asked 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS not to identify the motels out of concern it might affect the legitimate business the motels do, and dissuade other travelers from staying there.

"They do whatever they can to help us out," Detective Brake said of the motels, "because they don't want this in their places of business either. They provide us a couple rooms and they let us operate out of there."

Brake said once inside the motel rooms, undercover detectives would be waiting to seal the deal, by arresting the escorts. "We arrested one female who actually admitted she was there to rob me at knife point. It was a good feeling to get her off the street," he said.

Sometimes, Brake added, the department would also place fake ads itself on backpage.com, in order to lure 'johns' to the motels.

The 2012 crackdown has so far resulted in 41 prostitution charges in Roseville. Last year there were only four.

The on-line escorts seem to be getting the message. "There used to be typically 10 to 15 posts a day, just for the city of Roseville," Brake siad. "And now it's lucky if there's two a week."

But Roseville doesn't think its efforts are driving prostitutes to neighboring communities. Police believe they're driving many of them out of business.

"It's never going to completely go away," Brake admitted. "If it completely goes away some of us in law enforcement are going to be out of a job!"

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com