Baltimore County police have arrested two men and are looking for more suspects and victims in connection with robberies linked to people using dating apps.
"When they set up an initial meeting with the person on the other end, it ended up being a robbery set up for them," Baltimore County police Officer Jennifer Peach said.
Matthew Austin Bauer, 21, and Paul William James Keve, 18, both of Dundalk, are charged with armed robbery, robbery, second-degree assault and misdemeanor theft.
Police said Bauer and Keve robbed a 24-year-old man with whom they arranged to meet on March 31 using the app Jack'd. Police said the suspect surrounded the victim in the 7500 block of Westfield Road in Dundalk, threatened him with a knife and stole his cash and cellphone.
"One of the suspects did have a folding knife," Peach said.
Police said a 22-year-old man was robbed and beaten on March 2 when he set up a meeting with someone called "Josh" using the app Grindr. Police said a man wearing dark clothes and a ski mask met the victim in the 1600 block of Four Georges Court in Dundalk and demanded his money and cellphone.
Police said the victim tried to get away, but was surrounded by two other men, who began beating him. The three assailants fled with the victim's cash and cellphone. Police said they identified Keve as one of the assailants and he is also charged in this case.
Police believe there could be more victims.
"We do encourage them to come forward and talk to us about what happened to them, so we can develop a better case against this suspect and any other suspects, so that we can stop anybody else from being victimized in this way," Peach said.
Anyone with information on either of these incidents, a similar type incident or anyone who may have been victimized under similar circumstances by either Bauer or Keve is asked to call police at 410-307-2020 or Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP.
In a statement, a spokesman for Grindr told 11 News that the app uses a system of digital and human screening tools, saying, "Grindr encourages users to report suspicious and threatening activities. While we are constantly improving upon this process, it is important to remember that Grindr is an open platform. Grindr cooperates with law enforcement on a regular basis and does not condone abusive or violent behavior."
"We would encourage people if they're going to use any type of an app or a website for dating purposes to make that initial contact be one in a public place or make it some sort of a double date so that multiple people are involved. That lessens the likelihood that you're being set up for a robbery," Peach said.