UC Berkeley student baited through Tinder, date ends in home-invasion robbery

A UC Berkeley student was robbed at gunpoint after his Tinder date let three strangers into his apartment near the campus, police said Tuesday.

"She was used as bait," said a UC Berkeley student named Teddy when told about the incident. "Yeah, that's horrible. I guess you got to reevaluate how you use those apps and meet outside, I guess, like at a coffee shop."

It all began late Sunday night, when the 23-year-old victim met a woman on Tinder and arranged for her to come over to his apartment near Prospect Street and Channing Way near the UC Berkeley campus.

The two had what police call an "encounter" inside his apartment. But things devolved from there.  It turns out the woman had secretly kept the victim's door unlocked after she was let in. 

"While on scene (she) actually invited three other subjects into the residence, all of which robbed the male at gunpoint," said Officer Jessica Perry, a Berkeley police spokeswoman

That student was held down while robbed of more than $4,000 in cash and electronics, including a camera.

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Perry said officers quickly hatched a plan to find the suspects.

"They were able to utilize the information that was provided to them by the victim, obtaining a phone number, and what they did was they actually arranged a date on the dating app to meet the suspects," Perry said.

That meet-up spot was a hotel in the Berkeley Marina. At about 3:45 a.m. Monday, police say the suspects drove up in an Infiniti with a loaded Glock and a BB gun in the car.

Officers arrested Nina Mendoza Nieves, the victim's original date, as well Royal James Lawrence II, both 19. Also booked was a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl. Alameda County prosecutors have charged the adults with robbery. Authorities cannot disclose the status of cases involving juveniles.

"The dangers of meeting someone online are always there," Perry said. "You need to use caution, you know, try not to ever have somebody come and meet you at your home residence."

UC Berkeley student Ryan Cheng agreed, saying, "I think it's unfair to the guy, but I think you have to be careful, especially if you're gonna be inviting strangers into your house, for sure."

Another Cal student Jenni Nnoli said, "Even if they might also be college students, of college age, it doesn't quite literally mean you can trust them, so I feel like this is a good lesson in that you can't really just trust people because they're your peers."