Not long ago I met a guy from Grindr. Let’s call him Kevin, for that’s what he called himself. We had fun and sweaty sex and then did again a week later.
The sessions were impish, caring, tender even, and to add to the mischief we took a hot video on my phone. As soon as the second meet was over, we were texting to plan the next shag. It was only the morning after I realised he’d robbed me and our hot video had turned into the most expensive porno in my extensive collection.
In my flat I had birthday money, cash from the proceeds of my acute scratch card addiction and left over holiday currency in everything from Euros to Hong Kong dollars to Swedish Krona and Philippine pesos. It was all gone.
The notes had been in my underwear drawer. Call me stupid for having a substantial amount of cash in my home, but I had no reason to suspect I’d been riding a tea-leaf who’d poke around my stuff while I was in the shower.
I was livid, sad and confused, but rather than feel sorry for myself I took off to a friend’s barbecue. To help take my mind off things, he put me on cooking duty however I soon realised he’d given me this job because he barely knew the difference between a fire lighter and a sausage.
Under the rain which drenched the burgers and made the decadent hot tub a lot less appealing a worrying trend emerged. Of the small number of mates I told, over half described similar, or worse, experiences.
One discovered an ex had systematically stolen from him over a period of months (he’d taken some satisfaction from giving the ex a black eye months later in a nightclub).
Another had been drugged and woke to find his flat empty: no telly, no phone, no iPad, no clothes and no work laptop containing sensitive and confidential material.
In the most disturbing story, a friend had confronted a man about pinching money and was attacked in his own kitchen – with his own breadknife – and managed to escape with minor injuries only after leaping from a window.
When I got home after the party, buoyed by booze and the kind words of my supportive mates, I checked if anything else was missing and wrote out the pros and cons of what to do next. I knew the answer was to call the police, but because I didn’t know much about this lad, and more because I’m a soft touch, I didn’t call immediately.
I didn’t want to believe that the sweet young man with the angelic smile and amazing arse could have fucked me over. So, out of the kindness of my dumb old heart, I messaged him on Grindr, I texted him and I called him, giving him three chances to admit the wrongdoing. He denied it, nay, nay and thrice nay.
Now I’m no Jessica Fletcher, but after putting his mobile number into Facebook I found that his real name wasn’t Kevin, leading me to wonder why anyone, given the choice, would call themselves Kevin.
Then with just a few more clicks I discovered his home address, his social media accounts and even that two members of his immediate family are third degree contacts of mine on LinkedIn.
On Twitter, mere hours after rifling through my personal belongings I found he’d posted a line from rapper Mill Meek about the ‘hustle’ and had the symbols “£€$” on his profile description. I, along with who knows how many other victims, was being laughed at. Now I had enough information, and crucially enough sense of injustice, to call the cops.
The officer who dealt with my case made me feel comfortable and not at all embarrassed. I was told he would arrest ‘Kevin’ and search his property. Finding a handful of tenners and twenties would prove nothing but explaining away hundreds of pounds of an eclectic mix of foreign currency with my fingerprints on would be almost impossible.
Sadly, it took the officer more than a month to make the arrest, giving the guy enough time to take the baht and rupees down the bureau de change and fly to Manila and back with a pocketful of pesos.
‘Kevin’ (why do I keep calling him that?) was taken for questioning in the early hours of a Saturday morning. Predictably the officer found nothing. Probably more to do with me foolishly warning lovely Kev that I was on to him rather than the passage of time. And in fairness, the Kentish Town police must have had more pressing and tasty incidents going on than to prioritise me having a few quid nicked by a ratbag.
In interview, Kevin gave no comment, and as there was no evidence to speak of the case was closed. It was just my word against his – but at least I was the one who said something.
And that’s the point, this sort of thing goes on much more than what gets reported. We’re embarrassed; we don’t want to admit to what we get up to to the coppers and even a bit of me didn’t want to report the incident because I didn’t want a young (and, I’m convinced, closeted) lad to ruin his life and potentially go to prison despite what he did.
So what happens when this isn’t called out? People like him do it again and again. Maybe this is the first time he’s been arrested, maybe it’s the fourteenth, I have no idea. At least I have the satisfaction of him spending a night in the cells and now having a record of the accusation on his file. The whole thing may make him think twice before he shags you and you realise your wallet is missing.
Since the police can no longer do anything and all avenues to prosecution have become cul-de-sacs I flit between being upset, sanguine or angry enough to want to exact retribution in whatever form that may be. I want to knee him in the bollocks. I want to circulate his picture to warn others. I want to out him to his family. I could pretty easily do all three but what would doing any of this make me? I’d be worse than him and become the sort of man I’ve always hated.
A friend comforted me by saying, ‘You’re a decent bloke and it’s not your fault, you’ve just come across a geezer who’s a c***.’ And he’s right, it’s not my fault and the geezer is a massive C-word so much so that I’ve seen he’s still on Grindr, no doubt scoping out other victims, but I’m pleased I’ve done all I currently can to keep him out of your bedroom yet keep the values within myself that I hold dear.
So of course I’ll be more careful in future but sadly I’ll also be less trusting and that’s what hurts – having to change my behaviour because of the behaviour of a sticky-fingered stranger.
To console myself I’m remembering the mantra that ‘living well is the best revenge’… Indeed, I’m getting paid more for this article than he stole, have honed my barbecuing skills and as the cold nights draw in I’ve got a very hot, yet very expensive, porno to keep me company.
Words: Neil Hughes