A Winnipeg man was pepper-sprayed and carjacked by four teenagers Monday afternoon after showing up for what he thought was a date he'd arranged on a free dating site.
Police detailed the attack at a news conference Tuesday morning and are now suggesting the public think twice before using free dating services.
Const. Tammy Skrabek said the man didn't even get out of his vehicle before he was pepper-sprayed at the spot he'd arranged to meet his date.
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Skrabek said a 16 year-old female approached the man. Then, according to police, three other youths "approached the victim's vehicle, sprayed him with pepper spray, pulled him from his vehicle and threatened him."
'This is just outrageous'
The attack happened on Boyd Avenue, between Charles and Salter streets, and police say the man walked away uninjured.
Several neighbours in the area told CBC News they were shocked to learn more about the nature of the daytime ambush.
"It's not typical that something like that happens. There's crime in the North End but something like this is just outrageous," said Jeff Sulz, who has lived on Boyd Avenue for almost a decade.
"It's sad to see stuff like this happening in our neighbourhood."
Skrabek wouldn't reveal the name of the free dating website that was used but suggested it's favoured by thieves who are waiting to rob someone.
"They don't have to pay to post an ad, somebody's going to respond to it for them. If you're looking to set up a robbery, it's beneficial for them."
Police say they found the vehicle in downtown Winnipeg, and tried to pull the vehicle over, but the driver fled before stopping on Broadway and Edmonton where officers started a foot chase before arresting the four suspects.
Used fake profile to lure victim
Skrabek said the suspects had created a fake profile to lure the man.
Police have charged two 15-year-olds and two 16-year-old youths with robbery, unauthorized possession of a weapon and several other offences. All are from Winnipeg.
Skrabek suggested the public pay for dating sites instead of using free ones to lessen their risk of being robbed.
"Lessen the chances, lessen the risk of somebody attempting to lure the victims," she said, adding this is the fourth time she's now issued a media release over a dating robbery.
Skrabek said so far it's just been males who've been the target of robbers.