VICTORVILLE, Calif. --Law enforcement officials are warning people who use online dating apps to be careful about where and when they meet potential dates, after two people were carjacked in separate Inland Empire incidents.
On May 15 a man who had gone out on a date using the Grindr app was tricked into pulling over in his car on a lonely stretch of road in Adelanto. Then the suspect used a gun to steal the victim's wallet and car, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
A similar incident happened a week later in the nearby city of Victorville. In that case a different suspect using the same app carjacked another victim with the same ruse.
"The suspect would lead the victim to believe there was something wrong with their vehicle," said Pamela Hoffman, spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "So they would pull over and get out to check their vehicle, then their vehicle would be taken."
Investigators said both carjackings occurred after the suspects and victims finished their dates, but despite the similarities in both cases they are unrelated.
Grindr is a popular mobile app for gay and bisexual men which works in part based on a user's physical location and the proximity to other potential dates.
A spokesperson for the company issued a statement which reads in part: "Grindr takes our user's safety extremely seriously. ... We educate users on best practices around safety. It's important to have fun, but be smart and do it safely."
The suspects in both carjackings have been arrested and the property was returned to the victims, officials said.
Law enforcement officers said the incidents reinforce warnings about online dating safety.
"Meet in populated areas and don't travel alone in your vehicle with someone that you do not know," Hoffman said.