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Recession triggers drink spiking for theft not sex

Aug 12th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

spikemainDRINKS are being spiked in Wellington bars for robbery rather than sexual assault, say some Wellington ambulance officers.

Paramedics who took a recent victim to hospital urged her to check her wallet and to go online or to an ATM machine as soon as she recovered to see if any money was missing.

Spiking has changed since the onset of the recession, they told her: “It’s not done for sex so much now. They’re out to rob you.”

The ambulance officers say people who think their drink has been spiked must check their bank accounts as soon as possible, and if they discover money is missing they must notify the police immediately.

So far, cases of spiking for robbery seem to be anecdotal, as police say they have not had any cases reported.

Wellington bars and pubs surveyed by NewsWire are very aware of drug-spiking offences.

“We definitely keep an eye out because it has been a problem,” says Coyote Street Bar duty manager Adrian Klemp.

He discourages people from leaving drinks unattended and has glass collectors working on Friday and Saturday nights clearing away all unattended drinks.

Adrian advises people who think their or a friend’s drink has been spiked to go straight to hospital accident and emergency and get tested.

Although he has not heard of any drug-related robberies he believes it makes sense.

“I mean that would be exactly the same sort of thing…it wouldn’t always be the girls that were getting targeted.”

Offenders who spike people’s drinks for cash, credit card and bank details use drugs such as gamma hydroxy butyrate (liquid ecstasy), rohypnol (Roofies) and the veterinary sedative ketamine hydrochloride.

All three drugs are colourless, odourless and virtually tasteless.

glass01They render the victim unconscious, leaving the system within 72 hours, making them hard to detect.

A duty manager at The Establishment in Courtenay Pl (who did not want to be named) believes it is hard to tell if someone’s drink has been spiked.

The Establishment has a safe zone for people who are highly intoxicated or fear that their drink has been spiked and offers drunk customers a ride home in their courtesy coach.

She says that if a customer is “silly enough” to leave a drink unattended it is impossible for her staff to keep an eye on it, as the Establishment is a busy nightclub.

Eugene Wehrly from JJ Murphy’s in Cuba Mall says in his bar “the only thing the customer has to look after is their own alcohol”.

However, if staff see somebody “dodgy what-so-ever, we’ll definitely get on to it.

“If somebody’s going to spike a drink they’re actually going to be watching the staff to see where they are,” he says.

Having worked in bars for years, Eugene has experienced drink spiking before and believes that it is hard to prevent.

“My girlfriend at the time was also a bar staff girl. She got spiked and she wasn’t even drinking – she was only drinking water.

“She came home in a mess and she was spiked. She was in the trade [so] she knew what to look out for and she didn’t even see it happen.”

Eugene has not heard of anyone’s drink being spiked for robbery, however he believes if somebody got spiked and wanders out into the street they are in danger.

glass01“Somebody sees them, they’ll see the opportunity of maybe robbing them. They might not even be the same person who had done it.”

Wellington central police spokesperson Detective Sergeant John van den Heuvel said in a statement to NewsWire that although no drink spiking robberies have been reported recently, people still need to protect themselves while drinking.

“Potential offenders often target highly intoxicated people to assault, rob, sexually offend or steal from,” his statement said.

He advised people to take a “common-sense approach” while drinking: “Never leave drinks unattended, never accept a drink from a stranger without closely ensuring there are no additives, and never drink someone else’s drink.

“If a drink looks strange, don’t touch it and report to the bar manger or police.

“If you believe your friend has had their drink spiked, call an ambulance and tell police as soon as possible.”

MODEL: The Chris Armstrong.

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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  1. I enjoyed reading the articles. You have an easy flowing style. I like the attention grabbing idea of linking spiking to the recession. Is there any evidence for this?

    It certainly pays to be aware of the dangers of spiking. one should not drink alone and be incompany when one goes out on the street. Should bars have up some posters on spiking?

  2. Great article- this is an important issue that is not often covered. However, it is disterbing to hear some of these bar staff place the responsibility on the girls to safegard their drinks when it is so easy for a drink to be spiked. Look forward to hearing more from you.

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