Chattanooga men seeking sex but getting robbed, police say - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga men seeking sex but getting robbed, police say

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Chattanooga police are seeing a disturbing new trend of crime that begins on the Internet, and they fear it could lead to murder if they don't stop it soon.

Police say a Chattanooga couple is enticing strangers for sex on websites like Craigslist and Backpage. But when the men arrive at the public meeting place, they get robbed at gunpoint instead.

Now police want to catch this couple before they pull the trigger on the next victim.

"It seems to me that it's probably progressing," said Asst. Chief Tracy Arnold. "It started off where the suspect would jump out and say give me what you got, take their wallet, cell phone, jewelry, whatever they have on them. Now it's progressing to the point of, hey drive this car to the nearest ATM and they'll try and max out the card.

Channel-3 has confirmed at least four incidents since December:

  1. 12/20/15 (Ely Road): Victim told police he met up with a female from Backpage.com. She patted him down for weapons and then a man "came out of the shadows and demanded money at gunpoint," according to the incident report. The victim handed over his wallet and then flagged down a police officer. He told the officer he wanted him to know what happened but was adamant about not pursing prosecution and "wanted to be done with the whole incident."
  2.  2/16/16 (4800 block of Hwy 58): Victim told police he met with a female from Backpage.com. They met up at some apartments where she searched him for weapons and then a man approached from some shrubs and robbed the victim at gunpoint. He drove the suspect to a gas station and withdrew all his cash from an ATM.
  3. 2/20/16 (4800 block of Jersey Pike): Victim told police he met up with a female from Craigslist at some East Brainerd apartments. She searched him for weapons and a man approached with a gun and forced the man to drive him to an ATM. The victim jumped out of his car at a red light on Gunbarrel Road and ran away. The suspect, not being able to drive a manual transmission truck, got help from bystanders who pushed the truck into a parking lot where the suspect lost control and plunged the vehicle into a water-filled ditch. He then ran away.

Additionally, one man was shot off Brainerd Road in January while trying to meet a woman he met online. But police aren't sure if the couple involved in that crime is the same one connected to the other cases. The shooting victim had a non-life-threatening injury and no one has been arrested.

"It's just a matter of time before a victim decides they're not going to give up their goods and it can get real dangerous then," said Arnold. "We're concerned about the safety of our citizens and as long as this happens and no one reports it or reports it as much as they should, then they're going to stay out there on the street, preying on individuals and it could get pretty bad."

Arnold says as long as this couple is making quick cash without getting caught, they're likely to continue preying online.

He also said there are likely more victims who won't come forward out because they don't want their spouse to find out the circumstances of the robbery.

The suspect description is vague but police say they're looking for a black male in his 20s with dreads, and a white female in her 20s.

Chattanooga Police has a VICE unit dedicated to patrolling for crimes like this and they do monitor social media sites and conduct reverse-string operations. But Arnold said its impossible for the unit to monitor every local post made to social media looking for sex.

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