Extortion by public officer or employeeA “trick roll” is a scheme using the false promise of sex for money to scam a would-be customer. The client, known as “John” or “trick” is “rolled” or robbed by the hooker.

In Las Vegas, prostitution is a minor crime. Persons can run up dozens of charges without ever spending time in jail. But participating in a trick roll may lead to other, more serious, charges. Some of which could mean prison time.

As Las Vegas’ Metro Police Department is trying to get a grip on gang violence, drug dealing, and other crimes, trick rolls fly under the radar. The John often doesn’t report the con because he’s embarrassed, doesn’t want to be inconvenienced over a few hundred dollars or — wait for it — he’s married.

Trick rolls morph into assaults and robberies each night on the Las Vegas Strip. Metro Cops are trying to keep up as they cope with a new wave of crime in the resort’s corridor. Organized thiever is stretching law enforcement personnel almost to the breaking point.

To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi — “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

Visitors coming into town for one last blow out before the holiday season gets under way are being seen as targets by a new breed of thug that preys on the tourism industry.

Some cops are calling the newest criminal development a “convention of thieves and lowlifes.”

Tens of thousands of people visit Las Vegas at any given minute. They are a magnet for criminals of all types, and the best Metro can do is to interact with the crooks and try to intercept as many as possible.

One, block-long, stretch outside Planet Hollywood might keep the entire squad busy. Thick with hustlers and drug sellers, the Metro enforcement team also heads into hotels to scatter the trick roll experts who have become a regular fixture around nightclubs. The world’s oldest profession is more about thievery than sex.

Prostitution is at a new level. None of us have seen it like this. It’s taken over — it’s exploded,” says Metro Sergeant Mike Ford.

Ford runs one of two teams who doesn’t do anything but work serious crimes in and around the Strip. Over half of the felonies are linked to robbery rings using hookers as bait. Gangs, pickpockets, drug dealing networks and auto theft, are nightly realities. And each crime often begins with a pretty woman in a tight mini-skirt, four-inch heels and too much makeup.

During one shift, the Strip’s detectives see more crime than an entire season of Cops.

“You been running from the law tonight? Look at me and be straight. Don’t lie,” Ford calls to one suspect.

On a typical night, the officers will move from one serious crime to the next. They only slow down when they are waiting for someone to transport a suspect to jail.

Meanwhile, on the sidestreets, parking garages, and other hidden spots, trick rolls continue to happen with increasing and alarming frequency.