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Police on Cape Cod warn of reports of date rape drugs

If you see anyone in distress or feel you may be a victim of this crime, contact Barnstable police at 508-778-3874.

Gabby Jones/The New York Times

The Barnstable Police Department is warning that it has received an increase in reports of people feeling effects similar to those associated with date rape drugs after visiting local bars.

Though no assaults have been reported, police reminded the public on Monday that any “tampering with an individual’s drink in this manner is itself a crime.”

Police issued a community alert, warning the public about the dangerousness of drugs including Rohypnol, GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), and Ketamine, which are difficult to detect due to a lack of scent, color, and taste.

“These drugs can easily be placed in the drinks of unsuspecting victims,” the department said. “The effects of these drugs are disorientation, confusion, temporary paralysis or unconsciousness along with a host of other symptoms, leaving the potential victim vulnerable to the intentions of the suspect.”

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Barnstable police encouraged everyone to use the “buddy system” when out in public to prevent being separated. They also suggesting the following precautions:

  • Be sure that your drink is being served directly by the bartender or your server. Don’t allow people you don’t know or trust to order drinks and deliver them to you
  • Watch your drink at all time.
  • Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Take your drink with you to the restroom if need be.
  • Keep your hand over your drink when you’re not looking at it. There are also many other options to cover your drinks that are available.
  • There are several options on the market to help detect for the presence of these drugs in your drink.
  • Get help immediately if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed or strange in any way.

Police said people should also be mindful of any unusual behavior by people they are hanging out with – strangers or not – as well as people who try to lure individuals away from their friends.

Anyone who feels they may have been a victim of this crime or sees someone else who appears in distress and/or wandering alone at night is asked to contact the Barnstable Police Department at 508-778-3874.

Boston police issued a similar community alert in December, and a recent investigation by WCVB revealed a recent rise in such incidents around Boston and Cambridge.

Duane de Four, interim executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, told 5 Investigates, “(To) anybody who has survived this sort of thing, I think the first thing that we would say is that it wasn’t their fault, because that’s part of the problem with the ‘watch your drink’ message is that then when something like this does happen is that people instantly are subjected to the victim-blaming.”

Some local bars are taking extra measures, including the 19th Hole Tavern in Hyannis, which is now offering free plastic covers for drinks.

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