Source: Prostitution sting on Elkharts South Main Street

ELKHART, Ind. --  Elkhart Police arrested 12 men after female officers posed as decoys in the undercover operation on the city’s west-central and south-central areas.

Officers said they would not release more information on the locations involved, but a source close to the investigation told ABC 57 one of the sting operations was on South Main Street.

Officers said prostitution is something the department is cracking down on.

“It creeps up in small areas. It doesn’t creep up in large scale , in large volume. You get a little bit here, a little bit there,” said Assistant Chief Tim Balyeat.

Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore said prostitution is not a prevalent problem in his city.

“It’s not really an issue. It comes and it goes. It comes and we stop it,” Moore said.

But the numbers show the trend is steady.                

In the fall of 2010, Elkhart Police arrested nine people in two separate sting operations.

Early this year, in May, Federal authorities busted a multi-state prostitution organization with ties to Elkhart; Court documents show the predominantly Hispanic ring distributed business cards throughout the community, and even housed prostitutes at a brothel in Elkhart.

Citizens asked ABC 57 why Elkhart is the only city they hear is tied to prostitution in Michiana.

“My explanation to that is perhaps because we’re taking a lot of action on those things, you’re hearing more about it.  That’s not to say the other cities aren’t,” Moore said.

Elkhart officers said they think it is because the department listens to citizens, and takes tips seriously.

We get intelligence from a lot of different sources. We want to make sure we keep everybody safe. We don’t like people knowing where that information is coming in from,” said Balyeat.

Police said safety is the department’s biggest concern.

“We like to get our officers in there safely, be able to take care of the problem safely, make things better for the people that live there safely, and move on to the next problem.” Balyeat said.

The mayor said he does not understand why people participate in prostitution in his city.

“The bottom line is if you’re going to participate in prostitution in this city, you’re going to get caught. That’s all there is to it. That’s been proven over time, you’re going to get caught,” Moore said. “Why people take that chance, I don’t really know.”

Police said they know it will happen again, and they plan to take action when officers get word prostitution is happening in Elkhart.

“When you do stings in some areas, you don’t eliminate all of it, but you get some of it. And some of it moves out, moves away, or moves into a different location,” Balyeat said. “We keep putting enough in jail, and hopefully we’ll be able to eliminate it. It dies down from time to time, and then it pops back up and we have to deal with it. “

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