Three teenagers in Des Moines, Iowa are being accused of using dating apps to orchestrate a number of robberies. The boys, two 16-year-olds and one 17-year-old, were arrested at their high school on February 21 in connection with the crimes, which allegedly took place between February 7 and 13.
The teens reportedly used dating apps Grindr and MeetMe to arrange “dates” with victims, according to WHO radio news. Police received multiple reports of theft of items including cash and cell phones.
“[T]hey would set up a date, wait for the person to pull up in the parking lot,” Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines police told KCCI news. “They know that’s who they’re waiting for. They’d rob them, and they’d leave.”
Authorities were able to identify the culprits by tracing their IP addresses and uncovering evidence through a search warrant. Police have declined to name the suspects or the high school they attend.
An Emerging Danger
Robbers using dating apps to lure in victims has become more common recently. Earlier this month, 20-year-old Davion Johnson was charged with several robberies in Chicago where he used dating apps to connect with victims. Meanwhile, Tatyana Pumae Green, 23, of Jonesboro, GA, was arrested on February 7 in connection with armed robberies of men she met on dating apps.
Sgt. Parizek told KCCI news that with dating app-related crimes becoming more common, “you have to use the same stranger danger approach to this that you did when you were a kid.” The sergeant advised dating app users to arrange meetups in places with a lot of people, arrange a double date with a friend, or even meet in front of the police station. “Always let somebody know where you’re going, what you’re doing, and when you expect to be back,” he said.
The three teenage robbers are facing charges of second-degree robbery, with the possibility of more charges pending further investigation, according to Des Moines police.
Teens Charged in String of Dating App Robberies — Sources
AJC – “Jonesboro woman arrested in dating app robbery scheme”
CBS Chicago – “Davion Johnson, 20, Charged In String Of Dating App Robberies”
KCCI Des Moines – “Des Moines police arrest 3 teens in connection with robberies set up through apps”
KCCI Des Moines – “DSM PD releases more details on how teens used dating apps to commit robberies”
WHO Radio News – “More Info Revealed in Des Moines Robberies by Teenagers”