What Is A Sting Operation?

Sting operations are potentially valuable tools used in law enforcement and some government agencies. Sting operations are tools used by local, state, federal and international agencies often working together on resolving the commission of illegal acts.
 

What is a sting operation?

A sting operation involves law enforcement agency officials actively participating in, and sometimes orchestrating an operation against a single individual committing illegal acts, gang activities or takedown of an entire multi-national criminal enterprise.
 
Undercover officers use bait or opportunity that gets the criminal to accept the undercover officer into the ongoing criminal operation or that results in a lone arrest for commission of a crime.
 
Example of a single sting includes the police officer posing as a prostitute or a “john.” Another example is when police use a “bait” vehicle in a vehicle theft.
 
An example of a larger sting operation includes officers posing as gang members or prey for scam artists. An example of international cooperation includes cooperation and assistance offered by law enforcement and government agencies of several countries working together to stop crimes such as terrorism, money laundering or sex trafficking.
 
Stings are not used just in criminal activities. Officials trying to ascertain whether establishments, realtors or apartment owners use discrimination tactics and underage alcohol or tobacco sales are other types of stings.
 

How do sting operations work?

Law enforcement officials plan the sting sometime before the operation actually takes place. Every official involved in the sting knows their position, their action in the sting and their role once the sting operation results in apprehension, arrest, and prosecution.
 
A sting is typically well-planned, well-executed and usually brings about the desired end to the operation.
 

What are some sting operation benefits?

Sting operations enhance law enforcement presence, build confidence in the U.S. and abroad and improve collaboration among law enforcement agencies.
 
The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing indicates that stings help facilitate arrests, convictions, and return of stolen property.

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