The Atlanta Police Department issued a warning on May 5 after a spate of armed robberies targeting LGBTQ men.
In a press conference, authorities said suspects are luring victims in through Grindr, taking them to a remote location, and then pulling out a gun to rob them after the date. From February to May, eight LGBTQ men have been attacked and stripped of belongings ranging from keys to wallets and cars. Although the department has not released images of the attackers, police described one of the individuals connected to the case as someone in their late teens and early twenties.
The events leading up to the attack appear as a regular date.
“It’s a normal conversation with the person, typically dating things,” Atlanta Police Department Sergeant Rodney Jones said during the press conference. “They are asking about their life; they are asking about anything to get to know someone.”
Police say there are some steps people can take to avoid the perpetrators.
“Meet at a grocery store or a public place before you reconvene somewhere more intimate,” Eric King, the department’s LGBTQ liaison, said in a press conference. “Listen to your inner voice. If you are trying to FaceTime someone, or get an address and [they are] kinda hesitant and give you the location of a cemetery or someplace you don’t know, take that as a sign.”
He added, “We’ve all been catfished. It’s not something that is a new area, but we don’t want people to continually be victimized by a person or group of individuals.”
Atlanta Police Department Major D’Andrea Price echoed calls to apprehend the suspects and urged LGBTQ people to come forward and share if they faced a similar incident.
APD's Robbery Unit warns the LGBTQ community about robberies targeting them through the dating app Grindr. These robberies have shown similarities & APD needs the public’s assistance in helping to solve these crimes. https://t.co/SOQidSJcVk @COALGBTQ
— Atlanta Police Department (@Atlanta_Police) May 5, 2021
In a statement to Gay City News, Waddie Grant, a spokesperson for Grindr, said the app is asking users to report criminal allegations to police and that in these cases, they “work directly with law enforcement as appropriate.”
“We are always saddened to hear about difficult experiences our community members have both online and offline,” Grant said in a written statement. “Grindr publishes a holistic security guide that is available in multiple languages. Grindr also encourages users to be careful when interacting with people they do not know and to report improper or illegal behavior either within the app or directly via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter