Created to connect buyers with sellers, job seekers with jobs and lost pets with their owners, the site has become popular around the world, but the anonymity of the Internet has made Craigslist also popular with people offering services formerly found on street corners.
Landers' department is one of several around the country that has used the site to bust prostitutes. He said that, unlike escort services listed in the phone book, online listings are clear about their intent. The most recent sting carried out by the department ended with six women being arrested on misdemeanor charges. The women arrested ranged in age from 17 to 43 and were from around the state and Missouri.
Landers said the sting resulted from posted on Craigslist. Landers expects more stings will follow, although word is getting out that Lowell won't tolerate prostitution, he said. Craigslist administrators are taking steps to make it more difficult for advertisers of some illegal services.
The effort is part of an agreement between the Californiabased Craigslist, 42 attorneys general and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. According to the agreement, Craigslist is adding requirements for people wanting to post in its erotic services section.
Posters will have to provide a valid phone and credit cardalong with paying a small fee. The section warns that "human trafficking and exploitation of minors are not tolerated - any suspected activity will be reported to law enforcement.
The added measures were created to corral "for escort services, sensual massage, adult web cams, phone sex, erotic dancing, adult Web sites, nude housecleaning, etc. The changes were announced last week, yet the section of the Web site appears to continue to contain primarily offers of sex, whether or not for a fee.
Attempts to contact the site's administrators were unsuccessful and met with a referral to a Web log post by Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster.
Buckmaster contends the amount of illegal activities advertised on Craigslist is low compared to the amount of legitimate posted. No amount of crime is acceptable, he wrote.
Deputy Attorney General Jim DePriest said the decision to on to the agreement was largely to help protect children. While the agreement won't mean DePriest's office will be investigating postings on Craigslist, it will be ready should the company decide not to make good on its pledge, he said. The phone and credit card s collected by the Web site will be made available to law enforcement agencies that subpoena them. DePriest doesn't expect the office will have to do any reminding.
The company is taking other steps to limit illegal activities on the site, he said, including suing companies that create software to circumvent Craigslist security measures. The agreement was spearheaded by Connecticut AttorneyGeneral Richard Blumenthal and represents an effort by attorneys general to cover a perceived gap in protection, De-Priest said.
We want you to do right. Let's sit here and talk about this,'" DePriest said. The groups agreed to work together to address changing threats as technology develops, DePriest said, but the challenge is balancing people's right to privacy withprotecting the public. Prostitution typically isn't a high priority for police in Northwest Arkansas, with the exception of the occasional sting operation.
Bentonville, Fayetteville and Springdale police departments have yet to use Craigslist to set up prostitution stings. The Web site has been referenced on occasion. Tim Franklin said Fayetteville detectives have historically made prostitution arrests related to escort services. There hasn't been any indication of street-level prostitution in the city, he said.
In the Fayetteville special investigations unit, officers didn't see many child-safety cases on Craigslist, Sgt. Bill Phelan said. There was one occasion where it appeared someone out of the country was trying to sellPhelan said. That particular case turned out to be a scam. Springdale police have had approximately six reports of prostitution in as many years, said Sgt.
Shane Pegram. There doesn't seem to be enough call volume to warrant dedicating resources to investigate prostitution, he said, but the department will continue to respond to calls of suspected activity.
Bentonville Police Chief James Allen couldn't remember the last time his department made an arrest for prostitution. The department hasn't ever run a sting on prostitution, he said, although they occasionally hear reports, but only after the fact. Manpower is better spent going after other crimes, Allen said. The time it takes to set up a sting to bust a few prostitutes could be better used making drug busts, which usually means clearing other crimes, he said.
The department gets all manner of tips for child crimes, which it investigates, Allen said. If a Web site like Craigslist could help solve a case, he said, his detectives would use it. Police bust prostitutes with help of Web site by Adam Wallworth November 17, at a. However, there is always the concern that you could do more harm than good, Allen said. ZIP: 72704 72703 72701 72702