"Hook-up" sites lead to robberies

There is a new twist to online prostitution. Some of the men hoping to meet with prostitutes are encountering robbers instead.

“There have been handguns shown at these robberies,” Capt. Phil Trent said. “It is a recipe for disaster. At some point, some will resist and get hurt or killed.”

The encounters begin on websites like South Bend Back Page or Quest. Then, a meeting place is arranged where money is expected to exchange hands for sexual activity.

“You’re setting them up in a situation where you know they’re going to have cash,” Trent said.

There are currently three open cases involving this sort of pattern. Police believe there are many other incidents that go unreported. So far, only limited descriptions of the suspects have been provided.

“Three active cases that stem from the same scenario is a lot,” Trent said.

The targets of these robberies are told to meet a woman at an isolated location, often very late at night. Reports also indicate that the directions to a meeting place are confusing.

“They may not be 100 percent familiar with South Bend, “ Trent said. “It is easy to disorient somebody. They can’t geographically pin down where they were.”

This is not the first time South Bend Police closely monitor online prostitution activity. Just three months ago, a sting operation led to three arrests.

“We certainly don’t want this happening in South Bend,” Trent said.

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