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Using the Internet to crack down on prostitution in Joplin - KOAM TV 7

Using the Internet to crack down on prostitution in Joplin

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Six people are charged in connection with prostitution after an undercover investigation in Joplin.

Officers met women on websites and made plans to meet them at a hotel.

Police say the Internet may have taken prostitutes off the street, but there are still plenty of people willing to pay for sex.

"Most of what we see is non-traditional, where it's online, where the arrangements are made online and then they meet somebody in Joplin," says Lt. Sloan Rowland.

The Joplin Police Department has made about 12 arrests involving prostitution this year.  Minors have been among those arrested.

"We've had prostitutes arrested from anywhere from as young as 14 - we've had a couple juveniles arrested for prostitution - all the way up to 50 years old," says Lt. Rowland.

Recently Joplin police have caught prostitutes from areas like Springfield and Dallas, Texas.  They use free websites to solicit prostitution then book hotel rooms in the Joplin area.

Amanda Cox is a front desk manager for a local hotel and she says there are things she looks for when she thinks someone may be a suspicious guest.

"They're in and out the doors, you're bringing new people every night," says Cox.  "We've got to check on that room because other families come in from out of state to stay here and we don't want to put the idea out there."

Randy Shibby says in his years of being a hotel manager the signs of prostitution are pretty classic.

"Coming in here after midnight wanting to pay cash with no proper identification, and acting suspicious, looking around, having a carload of people out front waiting to see what's going to happen," says Shibby.  "That's not going to work at the hotels, almost all of them here in town.  It's just not going to work."

Police say more sting operations are in the works as they try to deter prostitutes and their solicitors from doing business in Joplin.

Police say if you know of or suspect prostitution is going on you should contact the authorities.

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