Two suspects who allegedly used the gay dating app Grindr to lure men and then violently carjack them were arrested Tuesday by the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department in Southern California.
Two attacks took place over the last two weeks. The most recent attack took place May 23 in Victorville, a city two hours from Los Angeles. Using the app, a suspect identified as Allan Soto, 24, met up with a man and stole his vehicle by force, according to the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department. A helicopter search ensued and Soto was arrested and the man’s vehicle later returned to him, reported the Los Angeles Times.
On May 15, Steven Thomas, 24, of Victorville, used the dating app to meet up with a victim in the City of Adelanto and robbed him at gunpoint, stealing his wallet and vehicle, according to the San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department. Thomas was on parole for possession of stolen property at the time, sheriffs said in a news release. He was arrested in the City of Desert Hot Springs and the vehicle he is alleged to have stolen was also returned to its owner.
It is not known whether Thomas and Soto were part of a criminal ring specifically targeting men through the dating app. A Grindr spokesperson told the Times that they “educate users on best practices around safety.” The spokesperson told the paper, “It’s important to have fun, but be smart and do it safely.”
This is not the first time Grindr has been connected to crime. On May 12, a teacher in New Hampshire was accused of using the app to send sexual photos and messages to his underage high school students. Last year in Colorado Springs, a man was killed during a Grindr hookup and another man is believed to have suffered the same fate in Philadelphia.
“Citizens are encouraged to be diligent and safe when using any type of social media dating applications,” The San Bernadino County Sheriffs Office said in a statement, encouraging anyone with information about criminal activity to contact law enforcement immediately.