Seven armed robberies and one attempted armed robbery — all involving dating apps — have been reported within 10 days in Omaha, Nebraska, and police say the incidents appear to be related.
In all eight incidents — which involved the use of either Tinder or PlentyOfFish — a male victim set up a date with someone presenting as female on the dating app, the Omaha Police Department said. All suspects in the robberies are men, according to the incident reports.
The latest of the robberies was this morning. The 19-year-old victim told police when he arrived at a location to meet someone from online, he went to the front door and told the person he was there. The individual replied “I’m coming,” but the victim said the situation felt “sketchy,” according to the incident report.
When the victim started walking back to his car, an armed man pulled out a gun and told him “empty your pockets and lay it on the ground,” the incident report said. The victim said the suspect told him to “step back or I’ll punch you,” according to the incident report. The suspect then fled the scene.
No arrests have been made as of midday today, Omaha Police Officer Michael Pecha told ABC News.
The police department said in a news release that it “encourages the public to utilize personal safety practices when meeting unknown parties on social media.”
A Tinder spokesperson told ABC News in a statement, “We are disturbed by the news of these unfortunate incidents and fully intend to support law enforcement with their investigation. Our sympathies go out to the victims at this time. We strive to ensure a safe experience on Tinder, and always advise our community of users to be vigilant and cautious when meeting people, whether it’s online, through an acquaintance or on an outing. We encourage users to follow our safety recommendations available online and through the app.”
A spokesperson for PlentyOfFish said in a statement, “User safety and security is important to us at PlentyOfFish, and we aim to educate our users on the necessary dating safety tips on our site here. We advise our community of millions of users to exercise caution when getting to know someone new, whether it’s on a dating app, through an acquaintance, or any other social setting. Our #1 safety tip to always meet in public on a date — never at someone’s home, a hotel, or secluded location.”
Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call the Omaha Police Robbery Unit at 402-444-4619.