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California

Carjackers used gay dating app Grindr to lure victims, authorities say

Two carjacking suspects who reportedly used the gay dating app Grindr to lure their victims have been arrested by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, officials said Tuesday.  

The carjackings occurred over the last two weeks in the high desert communities of Victorville and Adelanto, according to deputies.

“On both occasions, the victims had blindly met the suspects using the dating application Grindr,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

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The first carjacking was reported May 15 when Steven Thomas, 24, of Victorville met up with a victim and robbed him, deputies said.

Thomas, who was on parole for possessing stolen property, stole the victim’s wallet and vehicle at gunpoint near the intersection of Muskrat Avenue and Air Expressway in Adelanto, deputies said.

A few days later, deputies tracked Thomas to Desert Hot Springs and arrested him.

A week later, deputies got a report of another carjacking. Again, the victim met the carjacker through Grindr.

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Deputies were called on Monday to the area of Yates and Ridgecrest roads in Victorville, where the victim reported his car was stolen.

Authorities said Allan Soto, 24, of Adelanto used force to steal the victim’s vehicle.

A sheriff’s helicopter located Soto a few hours later and he was arrested.

The vehicles were later returned to the victims.

It is unclear whether Soto and Thomas were working together or if this is part of larger operation.

“Citizens are encouraged to be diligent and safe when using any type of social media dating applications,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

Grindr says it takes user safety and privacy seriously. The company said it is cooperating with law enforcement, but will also respect user privacy.

“As part of both joining the app, and on our page, we educate users on best practices around safety,” a Grindr spokesperson said in a statement. “It’s important to have fun, but be smart and do it safely.” 

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UPDATES:

2:12 p.m.: This story was updated with a comment from Grindr.

The post was originally published at 12:21 p.m.

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