Police use online dating site to make arrest

Published: Dec. 17, 2013 at 11:02 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 27, 2013 at 11:52 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - From blind date to blind-sided, dinner with a pretty woman turned into a day in court for one Richmond man. Richmond Police used some different and creative tactics to pick up him.

Ryan Covington was wanted for not showing up in court after allegedly breaking into a car in Shockoe Bottom, but police couldn't find him. They turned to an Internet dating site to literally get their guy.

"OkCupid" touts itself as "the fastest growing online dating site." For police, it became the fastest way to get Ryan Covington off the streets, out from behind the computer screen to behind bars.

Police say they definitely got who they were looking for when trying out online dating. In this case, a first for Richmond Police Lt. Daniel Minton, it was Ryan Covington who they were targeting.

Covington was on probation for two drug charges and then was arrested again, but didn't go to court. The usual tactics didn't work to find the 24-year-old. He became a wanted man, just not the type of wanted he was looking for in the online dating profile authorities uncovered.

"He wasn't wanted for a very violent crime but to the people in the neighborhood where he lives, you know, they want him off the street," Lt. Minton said.

Officers decided to try something different.

"I set up a profile and her name was Sasha," Minton recalled.

He made Sasha's "OkCupid" profile a perfect match for Covington.

"I'm looking to make the world a better place," the profile read. "I like to work with animals. I'm really good at having a good time and getting people to trust me."

And trust, it appears, Covington did. The Church Hill man writes in his profile to message him if you "want more than usual." Sasha and Ryan messaged for about a week, in what became unusual.

They setup a blind date to meet at the Galaxy Diner in Carytown. Sasha was supposed to be wearing a black turtleneck, red skirt and black boots, but that's not exactly how it played out.

"I didn't have that in my wardrobe, so I wore what I'm wearing now," Minton described, while wearing his police uniform.

Turns out, the suspect had in fact met his match.

"He kept saying 'I'm supposed to be meeting someone here on a blind date' and I said 'well, you have a warrant for your arrest you're coming with us instead,'" Minton explained.

Covington is now expected back in court in January for the failure to appear charge and in March for a probation violation on drug charges.

Police say there's a broader lesson here: You truly never know who you are talking to on the Internet.

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