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High Desert Carjacking Suspects Targeted Victims Using Gay Dating App Grindr: Sheriff’s Dept.

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Two carjacking suspects in the High Desert found their victims using the gay dating app Grindr, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday.

The first incident occurred Saturday, May 15, in Adelanto. The second carjacking took place Monday in Victorville, according to a sheriff’s news release.

Both crimes resulted in arrests.

The victims had “blindly met” the suspects using Grindr, the news release stated. The app bills itself as the “world’s largest gay social network app.”

The victim’s vehicles were recovered and returned to them.

In the Adelanto case, 24-year-old Victorville resident Steven Thomas allegedly used a firearm to steal the victim’s vehicle and wallet near Muskrat Avenue and Air Expressway. Thomas, who had recently been released on parole for possession of stolen property, was arrested a few days later in Desert Hot Springs, the Sheriff’s Department said.

In the second incident, at Yates and Ridgecrest roads in Victorville, 24-year-old Allan Soto of Adelanto allegedly stole the victim’s vehicle “using force,” the release stated. Soto was arrested a few hours later with the help of the sheriff’s aviation division.

“Citizens are encouraged to be diligent and safe when using any type of social media dating applications,” the release stated.

Grindr told the Los Angeles Times the company is cooperating with law enforcement.

“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, according to the Times. “It’s important to have fun, but be smart and do it safely.”

The app, launched in 2009, has more than 2 million active daily users, according to its website.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the geographic region where the crimes occurred. The story has been updated.

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