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Local gay-rights activists are growing increasingly concerned about the recent spike in so-called pick-up crimes in and around the District.

The organization Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) has issued two alerts warning gay males to be wary of hooking up through phone chat lines or via the Internet, as the risk goes far beyond contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

GLOV points to four recent pick-up crimes in the area—one being the April robbery and murder of Brian Betts, a D.C. middle school principal who lived in Silver Spring.

GLOV directors Kelly Pickard and Joe Montoni also point to other victims, including Anthony Perkins and Gordon Rivers, who similarly fell prey to robberies that ended in murder when they arranged to meet strangers for trysts—likely through gay-chat lines.

A fourth man was recently robbed at gunpoint in Manassas when he arranged to meet another man through a chat line, they say. The victim wasn’t hurt.

“Part of our concern is that as the incidents are reported they’re being reported individually without noting their factual similarities,” says Pickard.

One D.C. resident with a criminal past who declines to be named tells City Desk he’s known robbers who specifically target gay men, and that pick-up robberies are nothing new. “This has been going on over and over again,” he says, adding that some of the muggers he’s known believe gay males “keep money.” These muggers have found various ways of making contact with their victims, he says.

“We’re not taking the position that hooking up is bad,” says Montoni of GLOV, “we’re just saying that if you’re going to do it you have to be careful.”