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Peddling for prostitution goes online

An online personals ad led to a prostitution bust at a Cary motel. Police say such online peddling makes it easier to crack down on the world's oldest profession.

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CARY, N.C. — The fight against the world's oldest profession has gone online.

A posting on Craigslist, a popular classifieds Web site, led to a prostitution sting at the Red Roof Inn on Walnut Street in Cary.

Craigslist advertisements normally offer everything from cars and boats to baby clothes, but one promised an "Exclusive Companion for All Your Dreams and Desires" in Raleigh and Cary.

The investigation into that ad started with a tip from staffers at the Red Roof Inn. Management reported suspicious activity after seeing several men coming and going from one rented room.

"We learned that there was an individual working out of the motel that was possibly doing prostitution-type activity," Capt. Michael Williams, with the Cary police, said.

Cary detectives searched Craigslist and found the local ad. They called the listed number and arranged to meet the woman at the Red Roof Inn.

"We were able to discover that, in fact, she was involved in those types of activities, which led to her arrest," Williams said.

Police charged Yvette Russell, 20, with prostitution.

Cases such as this one are becoming more common, police said. The charges against Russell marked Cary's 10th arrest for prostitution in the past 10 months.

Although posting an ad online is more discrete than standing on a street corner, investigators said those offenders are just as likely to get caught.

"I think it makes them pretty easy, because you just visit the Web sites," Williams said. "You can identify them, make contact with them and go from there."

Red Roof would repeat its full cooperation with police during any future prostitution busts, its security director, Vince Vittatoe, said in a statement.

"The safety and security department encourages general managers to work with law enforcement officials and to be proactive when dealing with illicit activities," Vittatoe said, adding that Red Roof offers free rooms to investigators.

Craigslist posts warnings and disclosures that users agree to before entering its personals section. Users must be 18 years or older and and agree to flag any ads that might involve illegal activity.

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Mark Simpson, Photographer
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