What is Drug robbery?
In the United Kingdom, the use of Rohypnol and other "date rape" drugs has been connected to stealing from sedated victims. One expert quoted in a British newspaper estimated that up to 2,000 individuals are robbed each year after being spiked with powerful sedatives,making drug-assisted robbery a more common problem than drug-assisted rape.
Criminals sometimes use Rohypnol before committing robbery as it has a calming and anti-emotive effect. This allows the criminal to perform the robbery without becoming anxious. Rohypnol is also known to induce anterograde amnesia making police interrogations more difficult.
In a notable Rohypnol related case, Selina Hakki was found guilty in December 2004 of using Rohypnol to drug wealthy men and rob them of their clothes and accessories in the UK.
Drug robbery case studies
'Rape drug' used to rob thousands
Tony Thompson, Observer crime correspondent - Sunday December 19, 2004
Up to 2,000 men and women are being robbed each year after having their drinks or food spiked with powerful sedatives, the Observer can reveal. According to one expert, drug-assisted robbery is now a much bigger problem than drug-assisted rape.
The figures come just days after 37-year-old Selina Hakki was found guilty of using Rohypnol to drug wealthy men and rob them of their clothes and accessories.
The mother of two, from Bow in east London, cruised top nightclubs and hotel bars to find her victims. Hakki, who could face life imprisonment when she is sentenced next month, is believed to be the first woman to be found guilty of using Rohypnol to drug men in Britain.
Hakki was convicted of two attacks that took place 16 months apart but police suspect she may have had other victims who are too embarrassed to come forward. They also believe other women may be targeting men in the same way.
Male victims are often targeted by women who lure them with the promise of sex. Many such men are married or in long-term relationships and are therefore reluctant to report the crime.
According to Graham Rhodes of the Roofie Foundation, an organisation set up in 1997 to help victims of drug-assisted rape and campaign for increased sentencing, there may be as many as 2.000 cases of drug-assisted robbery each year compared to about 900 incidents of drug-assisted rape. Although the drug is most commonly used by men against women, 1-in-10 victims of drug-assisted sexual assault is male.
'We are very much geared towards supporting victims of drug-assisted sexual assault and rape so those who have been robbed would not necessarily get in touch with us, but based on the calls we do get we estimate that the 900 cases represent only 30 per cent of drug-assisted crime and that most of the remaining 70 per cent involves some form of robbery,' Rhodes said.
'The scenarios are all very similar. We have had cases of people waking up in the street, in the toilet of a pub or at home to find all their valuables are stolen. They often assume they simply had too much to drink and don't realise they have been the victim of an organised robbery.
'Christmas is a particularly bust time for this kind of activity because there are lots of people going out drinking who don't normally go out very much and therefore are less aware of the dangers of having their drinks spiked.'
Earlier this year a con artist, dubbed 'the cookie monster', was jailed for two-and-a- half years in Amsterdam. He robbed dozens of tourists after giving them biscuits laced with Rohypnol.
Welsh football fans drug robbery
Last year Welsh football fans travelling to Moscow for the team's Euro 2004 qualifier were warned to be extra vigilant in pubs and bars after the British embassy received a number of complaints from fans who had been robbed after their drinks were spiked with Rohypnol. In parts of Latin America the problem is so widespread that buses and trains carry signs warning tourists not to accept food or drink from strangers.
Rohypnol, available on the black market for as little as £1 per pill, is popular as a date-rape drug because it increases libido, does not fully incapacitate the victim and wipes out almost all memory of what has happened. GHB, also known as liquid ecstasy, has similar effects and is used for the same purpose.
Rock Star victim of drug-assisted robbery
ContactMusic.com is reporting that H.I.M. frontman Ville Valo fell victim to a brazen robbery after his drink was spiked in a Minneapolis, Minnesota, bar during his recent U.S. tour — and he has vowed to stay sober ever since.
The Finnish rocker was drinking with strangers the evening before a gig on October 21, 2005 when the drugging took place, leaving him suffering minor injuries and with his pockets cleaned out.
And the singer is now so terrified of a repeat incident, he is staying off alcohol for the foreseeable future.
He says, "They put some drugs in my pint of beer. I blacked out and woke up in a hotel room I'd never seen before.
"Somebody had stolen my jacket, my asthma medicine, my fags (cigarettes), my credit cards and my cell phone.
"I had a couple of scratches, probably from falling down, but nothing worse.
"I've been sober ever since."