• 63°

Meeting in-person in Port Arthur following an app introduction? Be Careful. It may be an armed robbery.

A dangerous trend where popular social media apps are being used to lure victims to meet up only to become victims of aggravated robberies is occurring.

Port Arthur Police Det. Mike Hebert said male victims are going to a location to meet a female. As soon as the person gets out of their vehicle another person comes out, brandishes a gun, steals their personal property and their car.

The victims are being approached by gunmen in apartment complexes near Ninth Avenue and Jimmy Johnson Boulevard. Hebert didn’t specify which apartment complexes as there are several very near each other.

Police do not know if there is one potential suspect or multiple and it is difficult to get a description of the subject due to coverings.

No physical assaults have taken place during the encounters, but the robber or robbers are displaying a firearm.

Port Arthur Police say the robberies have occurred multiple times over several weeks.

“We know a lot of people buy goods on Facebook and meet people in certain places,” Hebert said. “You have to be very, very careful when you have supposedly never met before. You need to show caution. Especially if this is a male/female type encounter and they go there expecting to meet a female they have never met before.”

This is the time of the year when there are generally increases in robberies and when you add in people using social media apps to buy electronic equipment, it can turn into a robbery, police said.

“We urge you, if you are going to do a transaction like this, go to a well-populated area where there are a lot of people around,” Hebert said. “If they want to meet you on a side street or somewhat vacant road, obviously don’t do it.”

PAPD wishes to make the public aware of these incidents and to be cognizant of their surroundings if meeting someone for the first time through any social media platform, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

If you know the suspect’s identity or have any other information, call Port Arthur Police at 409-983-8600 or Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas at 409-833-TIPS. You won’t be asked your name and you may be eligible for a cash reward. You can also make an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers by downloading the P3 Tips app on your smartphone.