Police have issued a warning in one Cape Cod community after receiving reports of possible drugged drinks at local bars.
The Barnstable Police Department says patrons have reported feeling the effects of date rape drugs. No assaults have been reported at this time, police said, but tampering with someone's drink in this manner is a crime in itself.
The warning from police did not specify the number of incidents that have been reported or where, but the community alert was issued because of the incidents, the department said.
Police want patrons of local bars and clubs to understand the dangerous nature of Rohypnol (commonly known as "roofies"), GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), and Ketamine. These scentless, colorless and tasteless drugs can easily go undetected when added to a drink. The effects of these drugs include disorientation, confusion, temporary paralysis and loss of consciousness, leaving unsuspecting victims vulnerable to the suspect's intentions.
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"The drugs themselves are odorless, tasteless, colorless so if you're out there, you're drinking alcoholic beverages, adult beverages, you may not recognize... it mimics that you drank too much," Barnstable Police Chief Mathew Sonnabend said."
Most people realize the next day when they feel the effects.
"Things like nausea, lingering illness, lethargy... things like that," Sonnabend added.
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But it's more than a simple hangover.
Police are warning people to be vigilant when they go out drinking or partying, taking extra steps to protect themselves and their friends.
"A lot of people will do tricks like put a napkin over their drink and poke a straw through it," Sonnabend shared. "Some bars will offer what they call a drink condom."
You read that right. A drink condom.
Dave Cronin owns The 19th Hole Tavern where an employee at the door checks ID's and looks people over.
"And he's also now going to be having a pack out there to say, 'listen, girls. These are available. Please, if you want one, we're going to hand you one for free,'" Cronin said.
The tavern has a show and tell on their Facebook page. The "My Cup Condom" is reusable so people can take them from bar to bar if they are hopping. Bartenders hand them out, as well, and Cronin has added an extra employee to walk the floor on weekends.
"And his job is going to be basically to look around and make sure that if God forbid somebody's out there doing something they're not supposed to... I've hired a kid just to do that for weekends," Cronin said.
Barnstable police want everyone to be cautious when they are out drinking and are encouraging everyone to use the "buddy system" in social settings.
Patrons of local bars and club patrons should also take the following precautions, police added:
- 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 times, and 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 say you should also be aware of any uncharacteristic behavior from the people you are with and be wary of strangers attempting to lure individuals away from their friends.
Contact Barnstable police at 508-778-3874 if you see anyone who appears to be in distress, or is wandering alone late at night, of if you feel as though you may have been a victim of this crime.