Police are investigating whether seven robberies in Dallas last month were hate crimes because the victims were lured through the LGBT dating app Grindr.
The attacks were reported throughout December in the southeast patrol division, police wrote in a memo to the Dallas City Council on Friday.
Police said that on Dec. 12 they arrested a 17-year-old suspect believed to be responsible for luring four of the victims to a vacant apartment on Chariot Drive earlier that day.
They are now investigating whether the teen could be responsible for the other attacks, though they say other suspects are at large. The teen's name has not been released.
One robbery was reported in the 8000 block of Rothington Road about 1:10 a.m. on Dec. 7. Two more robberies were also reported Dec. 7 and 8 at a vacant apartment in the 8000 block of Chariot.
Police said the victims were robbed and beaten.
Grindr is a dating app geared toward the gay community, and police said the suspect in the December crimes used the app to find victims.
"Criminals have been using dating apps to target victims in Dallas and other cities," police wrote in their memo.
Violent crimes, which include murders and aggravated assaults, increased last year compared to 2016 but remained at historically low levels.
An annual review of violent crimes in Dallas showed declines in some areas last year — murders, for example, dropped from 172 to 165 — and increases in others: Rapes and aggravated assaults were on the rise.
Police advise people to research safe meeting locations for their dates, and to meet in well-lit areas. They also suggest telling a friend or loved one where you will be and for keeping a phone handy in case you need to call 911.
The December attacks remain under investigation, and Crime Stoppers is willing to pay as much as $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.
Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call police at 214-671-3584 or their local police department as soon as possible.
Anonymous tips can be submitted through Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477.
The Police advises:
• Always research a safe meeting location and familiarize yourself with the area.
• Always meet in a well-lighted, public place.
• Never go alone.
• Always meet during the day.
• Keep your cellphone close and be ready to call 911 at the first sign of trouble.
• Never give out personal or financial information.
• Let someone know where you will be and who you will be meeting.
• Leave if you feel uncomfortable.