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What do you do if you’re robbed while cruising?

Gay men encouraged to report crime, says Burnaby RCMP

A Vancouver man is warning gay men to be aware while cruising in public, after he says a hookup robbed him.

He says he’s afraid to go to the RCMP for fear of being charged for public sex, but a spokesperson for the Burnaby RCMP insists they will not charge men who report a crime while cruising.

Chris, who asked Xtra to withhold his last name for fear he’ll be prosecuted, alleges a man stole his wallet and then started a physical fight over it after they hooked up.

Chris says the night he was robbed, he dropped by the popular cruising area in Burnaby’s Central Park, where he met a man he’d hooked up with previously and even chatted with at the Pumpjack pub in Vancouver’s gay village.

This time, Chris says he and the man gave each other blowjobs, before they joined a third man. Soon, the third man invited Chris to follow him to another spot where they could have sex.

“I went to follow him and pulled up my pants, and at that point I noticed my wallet was missing. I thought it must have fallen out,” Chris says.

After retracing his steps and searching with the help of other men in the area, Chris gave up.

But when he returned to the parking lot and began to drive away, Chris says he saw the first man sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, looking down in his lap.

“I pulled over aside him and I rolled down my window because I wanted to let him know I lost my wallet and couldn’t find it — to see if he saw anything,” Chris says.

That’s when Chris alleges he saw the contents of his wallet in the other man’s possession.

Chris says he demanded his things back, but the man denied having them.

The two struggled, Chris alleges, as the man tried to slam the door on him, while Chris punched him in the face and elbowed him in the gut to get him to release the wallet and cards.

With his cards and wallet back, Chris says he got back in his car, locked the door and drove away.

Chris says he was hesitant to call the RCMP about the alleged robbery attempt.

A friend cautioned him that although Vancouver police tend to leave cruising alone, Burnaby RCMP could possibly charge Chris for illegal public sex.

But RCMP Corporal Daniela Panesar says the RCMP would not respond by charging victims of robbery.

“I can assure you that is not a consideration when police are looking at investigations. Guaranteed,” Panesar says. “If somebody is assaulted and robbed, that’s an offense regardless of what kind of activity they were participating in and it would be investigated as such.”

When Xtra asked Panesar if Chris’ concern about getting charged is justified, she said she doesn’t think so but is fairly new to the Burnaby detachment and unfamiliar with any policing around sex in Central Park. But she reiterated that any assault or robbery should be reported and police would take the claims seriously.

Panesar advises anyone in Burnaby to report similar incidents to the RCMP.

Chris is now cautioning gay men to be aware while cruising.

“When it’s someone you’ve done stuff with before you sort of feel safer, and that can be misleading because obviously I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did. I thought, we’ve done stuff before, I’ve chatted with him at a bar. I thought, oh he’s safe, I don’t need to worry. But I was totally wrong.”