Chandler Police Catch Teen Who Lured Men Online and Robbed Them on First Date

At 5 a.m. Monday morning, Chandler police finally nabbed a guy they’d been looking for since May. Jose Salvador Rodriguez, the 19-year-old serial online dating app burglar, was caught shortly after robbing a Circle K in Chandler.

Police had been looking for a man who was known to contact other men online through the dating app sites Grindr and Jack'd, flirt with them for a while, and then invite them to meet somewhere. Once a victim arrived at the location, Rodriguez would pull out a BB gun, which authorities say looked like a real gun, and rob the victim of his wallet and cell phone.

Chandler police Sergeant Joseph Favazzo tells New Times that as far as the department knows, Rodriguez was crashing at his boyfriend’s Chandler home at the time and was otherwise “homeless and bouncing around a lot.” He “had a pretty severe heroin addiction,” which “probably explains why he was committing those robberies,” Favazzo adds.

Various police departments have had the photograph Rodriguez used as his profile image for months but were able to properly identify him only a few weeks ago because he had operated under a series of fake names. At least six people are known to be victims of Rodriguez’s scam in Chandler and Gilbert, but police suspect there are many more out there.

Favazzo thinks Rodriguez must have been desperate for drug money because he strayed from his usual tactic and attempted a riskier feat: robbing the Circle K. Apparently, the storeowner realized immediately that the gun was fake and called police. Rodriguez was arrested and booked at the county's Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, armed robbery with a deadly weapon, theft, and kidnapping.

Finally catching a heroin addict who robs men after luring them through the Internet – “it’s a good story, of course,” says Favazzo. “But c’mon, you guys,” he adds, addressing people of all ages who online date, “don’t be so willing to meet someone you don’t know.

"Be smart, people! Be cautious!”

The Chandler Police also ask that if you believe you, or someone you know was a victim of Rodriguez, to please contact the department at 480-782-4130.

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Miriam is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Miriam Wasser