Metro Weekly

Atlanta police warn that robbers are using gay dating apps to target victims

Suspects have allegedly arranged to meet victims in isolated areas, only to turn around and rob victims.

grindr, phone, dating, gay, attack
Photo: Štefan Štefančík / Unsplash

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.

In one instance, a victim said he was held at gunpoint by a man he had arranged to meet online. The suspect then kicked him out of the car and drove off. The car was later abandoned and recovered by police, although the suspect remains at large.

See also: Houston police charge man with murder for using Grindr to rob and strangle victim

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.

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