Berlin (dpa) – The coronavirus pandemic and the reduction in nightlife in Berlin have reduced the number of reported rapes and robberies with the help of so-called knockouts.
In 2019, 71 of these crimes were registered, in which the victim is drugged with certain chemical substances, the Police said on request. In 2020 there were 31 acts and last year 21.
Before the corona pandemic, crime scenes were mostly pubs, bars, clubs, discos and hotels. More recently, the few reported crimes took place in apartments. This shift “from public entertainment venues to homes” is likely “also a consequence of facility closures caused by the pandemic,” according to police.
More than two-thirds of the victims registered in the last three years have been women and minors (94). There were also 44 men and adolescent boys. In some of the recorded events there were multiple alleged victims. Tourists are also robbed or helpless with this method, some of the victims did not have an address in Berlin, according to the police.
Droplets can be life threatening
The mostly tasteless and odorless chemicals act like drugs and, depending on the dose and in combination with alcohol, can be life-threatening. Criminals secretly pour them into victims’ drinks. After a few minutes, victims become dizzy, cannot think or act clearly, and feel highly intoxicated. Soon after, they lose consciousness for minutes or even several hours. Perpetrators use this time for sexual crimes or to rob the victim. After waking up, those affected often remember little or nothing, making investigations difficult for the police.
The term knockout drops encompasses a wide range of chemicals and drugs. These include ketamine, a veterinary anesthetic, and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), commonly known as liquid ecstasy. In clubs, the drugs are also taken voluntarily as party drugs in lower doses.
The police recorded a further 322 substance-related crimes in the last three years as drug-related crimes, that is, as prohibited possession or trafficking of the knockout drugs.
The victim support organization Weißer Ring speaks of a large number of unreported crimes. “There are no reliable statistics on how many people are victims of knockout blows each year. This is because most of those affected realize too late or do not realize that they have become victims. The White Ring advises not to leave glasses unattended in pubs and clubs and not to accept drinks from strangers.