Police in Atlanta issued a warning about one and possibly up to three men using Grindr to lure gay men to a remote location where they are robbed. In the last four months at least eight gay men have been robbed, sometimes violently, after the conclusion of a first date with a man they met on the popular gay dating app. At a press conference Wednesday, representatives from the Atlanta Police Department’s robbery unit gave updates on their investigation, and the department’s LGBTQ+ liaison was on hand to provide tips on how to stay safe while dating or hooking up.
“From February to May, we have had eight instances where male victims were lured to remote locations by use of the Grindr app,” Sergeant Rodney Jones of the APD robbery unit. “After the date concludes, the suspect will rob the victim, often taking their wallets, keys. or even vehicles.”
In each instance reported to police, the victim entered into a conversation with their assailant who used a stolen photo for their catfished profile. Jones said the conversation eventually migrated “off the app” and continued “through text messages.”
Police have identified a specific profile linked to at least some of the crimes, but released no further details to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation. Investigators said their suspects are dark-skinned Black males, roughly six feet tall with four-inch-long dreads. Most of the crimes have occurred in Zone 1, the city’s northwest quadrant, but some have occurred in the southeastern Zone 3 quadrant. Police suspect a single male has committed the crimes in Zone 1, with one and possibly two suspects involved in Zone 3.
Jones described one incident that occurred last month, where a man picked up his Grindr date only to have a gun pulled on him after they had driven to a remote location within the city.
“Give me the car and everything you got,” Jones said the alleged robber told his victim, before stealing the car.
Most of the robberies are armed, Jones said, noting “the person typically has a handgun” and adding “they’re on a normal date, and after the date concludes they’ll job rob the person of their belongings."
Officer Eric King, LGBT liaison for the APD, provided the community with helpful tips on how to stay safe while dating using Grindr.
“Find a partner or a friend that you trust that you can notify when you’re going to meet somebody,” King said, also adding to “meet at a public place before you reconvene somewhere more intimate.”
Most importantly, though, King advised people to take control of the situation and “listen to your inner voice,” especially if it tells you something is wrong or doesn’t feel right.
While immensely popular among gay men looking to date or hook up, Grindr has been used by others for more nefarious purposes. In Australia an elderly man was horrifically tortured with an electric drill, taser, pruning shears, knives, and worse during a drug-frenzied assault by two brothers, one of whom he met on Grindr. Last year a teenager in Louisiana was left partially paralyzed after a young Jeffrey Dahmer fan he met on Grindr drugged and tortured him, even trying to amputate his wrist with a knife among other sordid acts.
Police in Atlanta, meanwhile, encouraged other victims to come forward, and to bring a trusted friend with them if they needed the support.
“We treat everybody with dignity,” Major D’Andrea Price said.