- The Magazine
Atlanta police are warning members of the local LGBTQ community to be cautious due to a string of robberies in which victims were held at gunpoint and carjacked by people they met using the gay dating app Grindr.
On Wednesday, Atlanta police said they’d identified at least eight people who were robbed since February, calling it “a very concerning pattern.” Investigators released photos of two suspects, but said that there could be other perpetrators involved, noting that some incidents may have gone unreported.
According to police, the suspects in the case typically introduce themselves on Grindr and begin a conversation with their victims, eventually getting their phone numbers and arranging to meet in person.
“From February to May, we have had eight instances where male victims were lured to remote locations by use of the Grindr app,” Sgt. Rodney Jones, of the Atlanta Police Department’s robbery unit, said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “After the date concludes, the suspect will rob the victim, often taking their wallets, keys or even vehicles.”
Most of the incidents have taken place in northwest Atlanta, with some occurring in Southeast Atlanta, police say. They believe one person is responsible for most of the robberies in the northwestern portion of the city, with a separate individual or individuals responsible for the robberies in other areas.
Officer Eric King, the APD’s LGBT liaison, warned members of the LGBTQ community to take steps to protect themselves before meeting with someone they meet on the apps. For instance, if someone refuses to FaceTime before a first date or insists on meeting in an isolated area, that could be a sign of a setup for a robbery.
“Find a partner or a friend that you trust that you can notify when you’re going to meet somebody,” King said. “Meet at a grocery store. Meet at a public place before you reconvene somewhere more intimate.” Above all, he said: “Listen to your inner voice.”
Anyone with information about the suspects, including other victims who have not yet come forward, are encouraged to contact Atlanta police. People can provide anonymous tips, and may even be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000 if they provide police with information leading to a conviction. Tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers Atlanta at (404) 577-8477, texting information to 274637, or through the Crime Stoppers website.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!