Internet prostitution sting nets four arrests in Henrico

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Could it be a sign of the times? The world's oldest profession embracing new technology! In just the last two weeks, Henrico police have busted suspected prostitutes accused of surfing the net for sex.

A professor at the University of Richmond said street walkers won't fade away. The internet has just given the profession a new avenue for illegal sex. But police are just as tech savvy.

From the street, to the net!

"There's no reason to expect that people who are engaged in law violations such as prostitution would not take advantage of social media and technology and the internet to apply their trade," said Joan Neff, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at U of R.

Henrico police caught up with three suspected prostitutes in the West End Tuesday, one is from Richmond and two call Las Vegas home.

A Chester man is accused of soliciting for sex.

Police said internet sites were used to catch them at hotels on West Broad Street. The same type of operation netted seven suspected hookers in the same area just last week. A new trend for an old profession says Neff.

"I would say it's relatively new and I think it has to do with the explosion of the availability of technology and things like Facebook and Craigslist, and all the other opportunities people have to go online and make others aware of their business," said Neff.

Dissatisfied with a promise by Craigslist in 2008 to crack down on people using the site for illegal sexual activity, nearly two dozen attorneys general, including Virginia's, called on Craigslist to take down its adult section last August.

This as police continue to fight online prostitution.

"Law enforcement has made great technological strides itself in recent years," said Neff.

The war is on two fronts, Neff said street walkers won't be calling it quits anytime soon.

"We still have the traditional means of getting the word out so to speak whether it's actually out on the street walking or through some type of service that might be listed in the yellow pages," said Neff.

Two of the women are out of jail. The third woman and the suspected "John" are still behind bars. Court dates have been set for later this month and in August.

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