Metro Weekly

California Man Robbed 20 Gay Men On Grindr

Suspect allegedly pulled knives and tasers on victims and threatened to harm them, demanding their phones, passwords, and personal property.

Grindr burglar – Original image: Sebastiaan-Stam, via pexels. Altered image by Todd Franson.

A Southern California man is facing federal charges for allegedly targeting and robbing more than 20 men he met on the gay dating app Grindr.

Derrick Patterson, 22, of Compton, was arrested on Monday by special agents with the FBI.

He was expected to appear in federal court on Tuesday, facing a criminal charge of robbery under the Hobbs Act, a federal law prohibiting the taking of a person’s personal property against their will, and taking people’s property by carrying out, or threatening to carry out, violence against them.

According to an affidavit filed along with a criminal complaint on March 30, Patterson targeted at least 20 victims using Grindr from November 2019 to March 2022, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

Patterson would arrange to meet his victims at their homes or in hotel rooms, ostensibly for sex, before robbing them.

He would allegedly pull knives or a taser gun on his victims and demand money and cell phones before fleeing the scene with the victims’ wallets.

On other occasions, Patterson physically assaulted the men. After obtaining their wallets, he would withdraw money from the victims’ bank accounts or use their credit cards for his own personal expenses.

For example, in September 2020, Patterson allegedly met a victim at a hotel on Century Boulevard in Los Angeles. While engaging in consensual sexual activity, he took the victim’s phone. He attempted to access Apple Pay by asking the victim for the password.

When the victim refused and demanded his phone back, Patterson pulled out a taser, threatened the victim, and again demanded his Apple Pay password.

When the victim fled, Patterson allegedly activated the taser. When the victim returned to the room, Patterson was gone, but the victim’s wallet was missing and his belongings had been rummaged through.

According to the criminal complaint, a search warrant for Patterson’s phone number placed him near the hotel at the time of the robbery — as well as at a different Century Boulevard hotel where a similar robbery was reported two hours earlier.

During another robbery in October 2020, Patterson allegedly stabbed a victim in the chest. The victim survived and later positively identified Patterson in a photographic line-up.

During another robbery in July 2021, Patterson allegedly met the victim at his home, grabbed his cell phone out of his hand, saying he wanted to watch pornography on the phone and demanded the password.

When the victim refused, Patterson said he had a gun and threatened to shoot the victim. The victim explained he needed his phone back but offered to take Patterson to an ATM to help him withdraw money.

Patterson allegedly responded, “Take your clothes off, you’re definitely mine now!” adding, “Go to the bathroom, I’m gonna f*** you! I’m gonna create some content for my OnlyFans.” He instructed the victim to go to the shower and come in naked, pulling his penis from his pants and attempting to masturbate.

While the victim was in the bathroom, he heard Patterson rummaging through his property. After hearing the apartment door open and close, the victim came out of the bathroom to find various belongings, including his phone, laptop, wallet, various credit cards, and Social Security card missing. He later called police and reported the robbery.

Patterson’s last robbery occurred on March 26 at a hotel in Beverly Hills. During that incident, Patterson allegedly threatened the victim and made off with his cell phone, changing the number and even accessing various credit cards and bank accounts in the victim’s name, going so far as to send a money transfer to someone named “Lee Jones” using Zelle.

The number the phone was changed to returned as registered to “Derrick Patterson,” the affidavit states.

If convicted of the charge against him, Patterson could face up to 20 years in federal prison. 

Prosecutors and police are encouraging other people who believe they may have been victimized or targeted in similar incidents, urging them to contact the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office at 310-477-6565.

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