Grove City Police crack down on prostitution
Packed with hotels and people commuting to Downtown Columbus, the streets of Grove City are busy.
This summer, Grove City Police noticed some of what makes the city so desirable for families and travelers was being used in a bad way.
"We started seeing an increase in some of the prostitution things associated with local hotels," says Grove City Police Lt. Brian Davidson.
An uptick in ads started popping up on Backpage.com.
"Basically, they are advertising, you know, escort services or massages that usually end up being more that just that," says Lt. Davidson.
Grove City Police decided to set up a sting. They posted their own ad on the website.
"Then, moments later, we were already receiving ads from individuals looking to set up sex for hire," says a sergeant who often works undercover, so we are protecting his identity.
Officers ended up arresting 21 men during the sting in late December, charging them with solicitation.
"We are a bedroom community with hotels," says the sergeant. "We are very close to Downtown. We have got three exits off the interstate, and because of that, we are a host to a lot of travelers."
Police say this isn't an isolated issue. You'll see ads advertising sex for hire in Dublin, Hilliard and more. But, Grove City Police have a message for anyone considering that sort of arrangement:
"If you come here seeking that, you could be seeking a decoy police officer," says Lt. Davidson.
He says the top priority is keeping the community safe. Grove City Police plan to do another sting in the future.
A lot of prostitution cases involve drugs and sex trafficking.
The Governor's Human Trafficking Task Force and the Attorney General's Office say increased awareness about the issue may be one reason we are seeing more of this activity in the suburbs.