An old Public Records dirty trick to stop prostitution.

It tickles me, to share with you this little dirty trick that comes straight out of my book 51 Dirty Tricks Bad Guys Really Hate: Sneaky Tactics used by Police, Private Investigators and Bounty Hunters and while it’s an oldie, it’s a goodie using license plate traces to stop prostitution in a neighborhood back when license plate information was still public record.

However, this still works today if you have legitimate access to license plate information.

This tickles me for two reasons.

One, I’ve been sharing a lot recently with you about public records, how to use them, and how valuable they are. About how they can move you forward when any other investigator gets stuck on a case – if you know how to use them.

And two, although it’s unfortunate, there is a twist at the end of this lesson.

Here’s the story…

A neighborhood had a real problem with prostitution. There was a lot of prostitution in the neighborhood.

That’s something that a community can really struggle with because there’s not a really good, cost effective solution. I mean you have this double edged sword of trying to stop humans from having sex and solving the problem of drug addictions!

The Solution

However they came up with a super clever and simple solution.

They would write down the license plate numbers of the “Johns” (the customers) that were coming and picking up the girls. Then, they had postcards made up that said:


The car with license plate #: ______________ was seen at (date and time) in a high prostitution and crime area. Be advised this is a neighborhood with a lot of prostitution and drug use.

Then they would go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, make a cheap and easy public records request and get the “abstract of registration” of the vehicle. That means they got the name of who it was registered to and their address.

Then they filled out the blank spaces on the post card and mail to the address the vehicle was registered to.

Think about how effective this is!

The “John” might intercept the postcard, and maybe it was even better if he did, because he immediately thinks, “What if my wife had found this? What if my mom found this? What if other people who lived here found this?”

It had his license plate number so his wife knows it was his car.

It had the date and time he was picking up a prostitute so his wife says. “Wait a minute. You said you worked late that night.” or “You said you were getting together wit your buddy to work on the car.” or whatever.

It’s a very effective deterrent!

As soon as the “customers” got those postcards, they stopped coming back.

The neighborhood attacked the problem from the “demand” side, rather than targeting the prostitutes (the “supply” side).

After all, the prostitutes have addictions. Let’s face it. They’re on the street because of drugs. They’re not going to stop soliciting because of “another” arrest. They need their dope. They’re going to be out there turning tricks. It’s unfortunate. It’s terrible. But, for the neighborhood, trying to battle an addictions is much more difficult than just scaring a guy off because he thinks it’s more likely he’ll get caught! What a wonderful solution to this problem.

The Governor’s Office

This was such an effective solution that the governor’s office actually issued a Commendation to this neighborhood, essentially saying, “Good job! This is an excellent model. This is the type of thing we’re talking about. You got good results for very little money. Great job!”

The Twist: The Hammer Drops

However, the very next year, the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act kicked in and license plate information was no longer public record. It is now considered confidential information and no longer public record.

The irony is, the government said, “Good job citizens! This is a great way to handle this problem! Now stop it.”

Let me know what you think about this!

In the meantime, remember: Do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.

Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

P.S. – And, of course, don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

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