Police in London have warned that an armed gang is using Grindr – the gay dating app – to lure in unsuspecting men before robbing them.
Two victims were robbed at knifepoint, in separate attacks, by a group of four men after making contact through the gay dating app. It is believed that the same group of men were involved in both of the incidents.
Grindr is a dating app that allows gay men to search for other men who are located close to their proximity. According to the company’s statistics, around two million people worldwide use the app on a daily basis.
Senior Detective Constable Sheree Yates from Croydon Police told the BBC that the victims did not suffer any serious physical injuries but have been left “very shaken” by the incidents.
She added: "We are keen to identify the suspects as soon as possible and are appealing to anyone with any information to contact the police.
"I would urge everyone who uses online dating apps and sites to take steps to help them to stay safe whilst meeting strangers."
A spokesperson for Grindr urged users of the app to treat the platform with a “measure of caution” as they would with any other social interaction.
They added: "There are many ways to verify and take steps to protect yourself, from meeting in more public spaces to getting phone numbers and speaking beforehand. We take these matters very seriously and cooperate with local law enforcement at all turns where we can."
Croydon police have in the meantime released safety tips for those in the area using dating apps:
- Always meet in a public place with lots of people around
- Don't share personal details until you trust the person with whom you are communicating
- If you decide to meet in person, let someone know where you are going and when you're likely to return
- Plan your journey to and from the date in advance. If using a mini-cab, always pre-book
- Drink responsibly and never leave your drink unattended
- Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged and working
- If at any time you feel uncomfortable, leave the date - you are not obliged to stay