Hot August Nights is one of the most popular events for our area... and a great community celebration.

But like many big gatherings, it brings with it - extra crime.

This weekend wrapped up the 31st time Reno has hosted the auto show... And for years, local law enforcement has noticed an increase in illegal prostitution at male-dominated events like this.

Channel 2 got an exclusive behind the scenes ride along during an undercover sting targeting that activity.

In the span of a few hours, a total of nine women were cited for soliciting prostitution. All of the young women arrested were legally adults, including 25 year old Arielle who says she traveled from Sacramento to dance at a local strip club and got lured back into turning tricks.

"I stopped for a good, whole seven months,” Arielle confides “I was trying to change, I already went to jail for this, I learned my lesson there - and this happens" 

Arielle's arrest happened, because the Regional Street Enforcement Team, known as SET, was working undercover during Hot August Nights targeting illegal prostitution.  Working girls, and often their pimps, come to town specifically for this event.

"It makes them more dependent on their trafficker,” one detective explains “ ‘cuz they don't know the city, maybe, they don't have any connections"

While a lot of solicitation still happens on Reno’s 4th Street, more often than not, it begins online. 

"...And you basically make a phone call,” says the officer who is posing as a “John” for this undercover operation, “It's as easy, almost, as ordering a pizza"

Arielle, who tells us she usually works as a stripper, got into prostitution to earn more money;  "I just looked at “Backpage” and I seen plenty of girls there and I just posted an ad myself.  I actually started here, in Reno".

As soon as person agrees to money or goods in exchange for a sexual act, it's a crime...  But it does take some acting skills on the part of the undercover officer posing as the “John” to catch them

“A lot of them will rub my back, they'll check my chest area to see if I may have a wire on me,” the undercover officer explains.

A lot of different technology is used to record what's happening, and these operations are risky for the officers - but they've seen the gritty reality for many of these young women.

As we drive down 4th Street, following the “John” and his interactions with girls walking the street, another detective recalls prior cases.  He says almost without fail, alcohol and drugs are involved; " ...a young girl gets taken to a motel, gets forced to use drugs and then she’s told you gotta go work the street".

So they work hard to make a difference.

"For the nine women we cited tonight, we prevented something possibly down the line for them" says the undercover “John”.

Because the bigger picture is - prostitution often involves violence, drugs and sexually transmitted diseases.

"I decided to live the lifestyle,” Arielle tells us with regret, “And see where it gets you".

A total of nine women were cited ...all were offered services by Awaken, a local non-profit that helps girls and women transition out of commercial sexual exploitation. 

For more information on Awaken, click here https://awakenreno.org/