INDIANAPOLIS - Police have turned to monitoring CB radio channels to make several recent prostitution-related arrests at a busy cluster of southwest Indianapolis truck stops.
The truck stops along South Harding Street at Interstate 465 have long struggled with prostitutes, and police said it often leads to violent crimes such as robberies or assaults.
In one recent case, police arrested a 26-year-old woman using the name "Sadie" over the CB radio trucker channels. Officers said they listened as she offered sex for a price, arranging to meet a trucker who would flash his turn signal when she arrived. Officers then reported that she pulled into the lot and the trucker flashed his lights, prompting officers to move in and arrest her on June 6.
Police and truckers told the Call 6 Investigators that prostitutes typically refer to themselves as "commercial company" on the CB radios.
"It doesn't fool us to hear them call prostitution some other kind of word," said one undercover officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Vice Squad.
"There are plenty of code words that people use, trying to maybe be sneaky around ways to describe criminal activity. Just like with other slang, we’re aware of it, we know what it means," he said.
The women offering that "commercial company" were sometimes heard on two different CB channels at the same time, each one trying to convince truckers to hire them or working to arrange details of an upcoming meeting.
The Call 6 Investigators recorded some of the prostitution chatter during the overnight hours this month.
One woman, whom police identified as a repeat prostitute with several arrests in the area, was heard keying the microphone and asking, "Anybody looking for some good commercial?"
As Call 6 Investigators' cameras rolled, the women typically would advertise their services on the main trucker frequency, channel 19, and then urge truckers to follow them to a quieter channel to arrange the specifics.
In one transmission, the same woman broadcast, "Any drivers looking for a girl?"
The women often sounded like they were reciting a script for a radio commercial, with a specific pitch that would be repeated every few minutes.
One trucker responded to a recent pitch with, "Are you good looking?"
The woman police described as a repeat, long-time prostitute, then replied, "Hell yeah, honey.
"I got long brown hair, brown eyes, 5’7”, 145 pounds, 36-D, tan, really pretty in the face," she said.
The same message was repeated several times throughout one recent night.
"I'm not one of those $20 girls. I'm a $100 girl, a $200 girl," she said.
Some of the women told any interested truckers that they had to be careful in broadcasting the details of their meeting, an apparent reference to the recent arrests.
"Watch out, they do listen," said one woman’s radio message.
"I'm definitely not the police, I can tell you that right now," said one woman, adding that police are now sitting and listening to some of the deals being arranged.
The undercover officer said, "It's not every day we get criminals who are broadcasting where they are and what they're doing."
He added, "I don't think anybody should be surprised that anybody, police or otherwise, might be listening in on what they’re saying."
One truck driver of 37 years said he was glad that police are listening to the CB radio channels to rid the truck stops of the crime problem.
"I think it's a dang good idea," he said.
"There just ain't no stopping them," he said as he mentioned the other crime fears associated with prostitution. “If they get in (your truck), they're liable to kill you, slice your throat, shoot you," he said.
That trucker, and police officers who patrol the truck stops, said they have also heard drugs being peddled in the same fashion over CB channels.
The Call 6 Investigators recorded transmissions where truckers asked some of the suspected prostitutes whether they could deliver marijuana to their trucks.
One woman answered that she would make a phone call and hook them up. After a couple minutes, she returned to the airwaves and said her supplier did not currently have any marijuana, but she said other drugs are still available for sale.
"Ain't nobody got no weed around here, it's either crack or heroin, sorry babe," said the same voice identified by police as a recently arrested career prostitute.
The women often received help from the truckers in acting as lookouts for police activity. Some men were heard broadcasting a warning seconds after a patrol car would happen through the area.
One woman asked, "So you guys are sure there's no police over there before I come over, right?"
A truck driver replied, "Absolutely.”
A 20-year-old suspected prostitute was also arrested recently after police listened in on the CB radio. After hearing her say she was leaving a nearby 24-hour McDonalds to meet a trucker, officers approached the woman to question her. She was charged with providing a false name to police, a charge known as identity deception.
Police have made several recent arrests for charges other than prostitution, since officers said the CB radio transmissions make it difficult to prove that sex was arranged for a price.
In the case of the 26-year-old suspected prostitute arrested in June, officers reported they could not prove the prostitution crime after listening to her CB radio sales pitch. Instead, she was charged with trespassing, since the particular parking lot owner had already warned her to stay off the property where police found her.
The undercover officer said, "There's been a combination of efforts by uniformed police officers, as well as undercover police officers that have made arrests down there in that area. Both misdemeanor and felony arrests, so it's something that we're aware of and have been actively addressing through arrests."
Another officer assigned to patrol the area in uniform likened the prostitutes to cockroaches, saying that when officers arrest a few, there are always others that swarm in to take their place.
"I've been out here for three years on and off and I ain't never had one driver complain about me," one woman said just two weeks after police arrested her.
After urging one trucker to move from channel 19 up to a quieter channel, she asked, "What’s up with you? You don't want to see me?"
The trucker answered, "I don't have that extra cash with me today."
She and other women were then heard telling truckers to call or text them to finalize the details of sex meetings, in an effort to avoid officers who are listening.
"All right, call me right now, I'm waiting," one woman answered as a trucker said he was interested in a meeting.
In other CB radio transmissions, one woman was heard assuring truckers that she routinely gets tested for diseases, one woman was heard suggesting $60 was the basic price for sex in a trucker's cab, and one transmission said condoms were required for oral or straight sex at all times.
Police said they would continue to make arrests on charges other than prostitution, as they continue to adapt to the women moving their conversations off the CB radio channels and onto phone calls or text messages.