Machete threat used in latest attack on gay app dates

Detectives are hunting for a man behind a string of violent robberies of men he has targeted through a gay dating app.

Police say he has struck at least three times and in the most recent attack the violence escalated with the man threatening his victim with a machete.

All three robberies have happened in the Auckland suburb of Mt Albert after hook-ups secured via the gay dating app Grindr.

Detective Constable Laura Hadwen said police believed all three were carried out by the same man.

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She believed there were more attacks but that "people just haven't wanted to come forward". "Thankfully the machete has only been used in one incident so far."

The robberies occurred within nine days of one another, the latest on March 7 when a man was waiting in his car for his Grindr date when a machete-wielding man threatened him and stole his cellphone.

Hadwen said all users of the app needed "to be cautious as to who they are meeting up with, and what they are doing".

"If they're meeting up with strangers they just need to plan ahead a bit and be careful," she said.

Police had contacted Grindr for assistance in the investigation, but it had not been able to provide any useful information.

The man is described as Maori or Polynesian, of medium to muscular build and about 1.8m tall. Hadwen said he might have half-sleeve tattoos on both arms. In one of the robberies he was wearing a red cap, white T-shirt, cream-coloured shorts, white socks and white Converse sneakers.

The robberies come more than five months after Auckland police launched inquiries into claims two women had been raped by men they had met on the Tinder dating app.

It is understood no one has been charged in relation to the investigations.

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Anyone with information should contact Detective Constable Hadwen on 021 927 812 or email laura.hadwen@police.govt.nz.