Gay men were urged to keep an eye on their telephone chatline dates or bar pick-ups after four men were robbed in three weeks.
Dean Johnston from ACON’s Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project told the StarÂ the victims -“ who had reported the incidents to police or the AVP -“ had similar experiences after taking a man home for sex.
Johnston said in each case the visitor had asked the victim for a drink, or suggested he go and have a shower. When the victim left the room, the visitor took a wallet or mobile phone.
In each case the thief left straight away, saying he had changed his mind about sex.
ACON president Adrian Lovney advised men to be alert but not alarmed when taking someone home.
I would urge gay men to exercise greater caution when they are in their homes with someone relatively unknown to them, Lovney said.
Don’t leave valuables lying around and don’t leave them alone while you shower and make a drink. Questions like -˜do you live alone?’ and -˜what do you do?’ appear to be a way for the perpetrator to establish if you are an appropriate target. Trust your instincts -“ if it doesn’t feel right, end it.
Police senior programs officer (gay and lesbian issues) David Toolan told the StarÂ it was important for gay men meeting men for sex on phone chatlines, on the internet or in bars to remember basic safety tips.
Let them think you have a flatmate, he said.
Tell a friend where you’re going, or even get a friend to call you about a half hour after you’re expecting the person to come over. If you’re out and you’ve met someone, be aware of how much you drink and always keep an eye on your drink.
Toolan stressed the incidents were not a common occurrence.
We certainly don’t want to let people think people are being robbed all the time. I know there are a lot of people who regularly hook up with people on a chatline and don’t have any problems. But it’s certainly a situation where there is that potential.
Meantime, Melbourne police have asked men who have been victims of chatroom robbery to come forward.
Police believe a man calling himself James has robbed several men in recent weeks. The victims all met James in online gay men’s chatrooms.
Anyone with information about these or similar robberies should contact their local police station.
Surry Hills Police also want anyone with information about two recent assaults at Rockdale or Bexley North beats to come forward.
Victims and witnesses of violent crime can report incidents to the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project on 9206 2116 or to local police.