Two men have been arrested and charged in connection with two robberies of Halifax gay men.
Through the Plenty of Fish website, gay men were targeted by a 17-year-old male youth and a 20-year-old man, police allege.
Halifax police spokesman Brian Palmeter says both men were arrested yesterday and both are from Halifax.
The 17-year-old appeared in Halifax youth court yesterday on two counts of robbery. Because he is under 18, identifying information has been withheld.
The 20-year-old man has been identified as Steven Robert Clarke. He was arrested just before noon yesterday after a brief foot chase. He is in custody and is scheduled to appear in Halifax provincial court Jan 26. He is charged with robbery in connection with a Jan 6 incident. He is also expected to face charges of possession of stolen property, fraud and breaching probation.
“The 20-year-old was arrested in connection with using credit cards. But that wasn’t what led us to them. In any type of investigation, we look for credit card information and video surveillance,” says Palmeter.
Palmeter says the suspects are not related and there is nothing to suggest they are lovers; however, they are known to one another.
“There were a number of suspects involved in these cases. One person met the victim. At least two other people approached the vehicle. I think we would be working on the premise the suspects are known to one another, but there’s no other connection than that,” says Palmeter.
Palmeter says he does not know if either suspect used a legitimate photo to lure victims online, but he says internet dating sites have been used many times for robberies.
The first robbery occurred on Jan 2 at Point Pleasant Park. According to a police statement, a 35-year-old man picked up a man on Tower Rd whom he had met online. Moments later, two additional men approached the vehicle, threatened the victim and demanded his money.
The second robbery occurred Jan 6 in the Wellington St and Lundy Lane area. A 29-year-old man picked up a man on Spring Garden Rd whom he had met online and drove to the south end of Halifax. Moments later, additional men approached the vehicle, claimed they had a knife and stole the victim’s wallet and fled the area on foot.
Both victims handed over their money and were not physically injured.
Although there are media reports suggesting there are more victims, Palmeter says the arrests are in response to two alleged incidents. Police are not ruling out more arrests and the investigation continues.
These arrests follow a police-issued warning for gay men to be cautious about people they have met online.