Grindr thief robbed 20 men during hook-ups, including at knife point, prosecutors say

This illustration picture taken on July 24, 2019 in Paris shows the logo of the US social networking application Grindr on the screen of a tablet.

A man allegedly used Grindr to rob more than 20 gay victims and held two at knifepoint, prosecutors have said.

Derrick Patterson, 24, from Compton, has been charged with more than 30 counts of robbery, burglary and assault against more than 20 men between March 2020 and March 2022.

The LA deputy district attorney, Richard Ceballos, said that Patterson used a Grindr profile with a different picture to arrange to meet up with men in their homes. He said Patterson would then steal money using the victims’ phones.

According to the LA Times, he would tell them he needed their devices to watch porn, so that he could get aroused, or would use their devices during sex.

It’s alleged that he would then use payment apps such as Venmo to transfer money to himself or stolen devices.

“When the victims started getting alerts on their credit card, Venmo, PayPal, a lot of these transactions were being made through other victims,” Ceballos said.

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Patterson allegedly asked some victims to wait for him in their bedrooms with their front doors unlocked, and would then ransack their homes, prosecutors said. He’s accused of robbing two men at knifepoint.

Patterson pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to other robberies carried out using Grindr in 2022, with media attention leading to more victims coming forward. He’s currently serving a nine-year sentence.

In some cases, Patterson would specifically target victims based on them being “soft targets”, according to Ceballos.

His arrest was announced by federal prosecutors in April, with 21 victims putting forward allegations against Patterson. Only five were within federal jurisdiction.

Grindr spokesperson Patrick Lenhian told PinkNews that users are urged to report illegal behaviour.

“Grindr takes the privacy and safety of our users extremely seriously. Grindr publishes a Holistic Security Guide and Safety Tips available from within the Grindr App and on Grindr’s public website, and we encourage users to be careful when interacting with people they do not know,” Lenihan said.

“We encourage our users to report improper or illegal behavior either within the app or directly via email to [email protected], and to report criminal allegations to local authorities and, in these cases, we work with law enforcement as appropriate.”

If convicted of all charges, Patterson faces up to 60 years in prison.

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