NYC Gay Bars: “Switch Off Face ID In Case You Get Drugged And Robbed”

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After a shocking string of robberies and murders of gay men after visiting bars in Hell’s Kitchen, city officials held a “Niteschool Training Webinar” to help keep New Yorkers safer. One of the biggest takeaways from the webinar was the urging from officials for bar and club patrons to switch off their facial recognition on their iPhones.

The webinar was sponsored through the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and partnered with the City’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes and the Anti-Violence Project. NYC nightlife tzar Ariel Palitz and Council Member Erik Bottcher hosted the event with both also speaking to attendees as well.


Instinct magazine has been reporting on the deaths of Julio Ramirez and John Umbeger and the ensuing investigation for the past few months. Both men were found dead after leaving gay bars. Last month three customers of the NYC Eagle also reported being drugged and robbed. The NYC Police Department does not believe the Hell’s Kitchen robberies and murders are related to the Eagle drugging and robberies.


Senior Executive Director for the NYC Office of Nightlife Pailitz discussed how “It’s up to us to stay vigilant and to be aware of our surroundings and to be conscious at all times. So we encourage you to be a harder target by taking some of these preventive measures and to keep yourself safe.” Councilmember Bottcher discussed the tragedies before introducing tips, tools, and information needed to stay safe saying,


“Julio Ramirez and John Umberger were both found dead after leaving nightlife venues in the Hell’s Kitchen. We are still awaiting news on that investigation — and while the authorities assure us that they are actively investigating this and that they have all the resources assigned to bring the people responsible to justice, we want to make sure that everyone has the information, knows all the tips and has all the tools to keep themselves safe when going out and enjoying New York.”

Also speaking at the webinar was Aditi Bhattacharya from the Anti-Violence Project who explained the thought process behind switching off your Face ID,


“Using old-school techniques and making sure your passcode is not a whole host of zeros or 12345, but something more personalized to you. Make sure you use that over Face ID, because evidently, it is easier for someone to use. They can scan your face without your consent and when you are not aware. That would open you up to more tech violence.” reported on these crimes writing, “In July 2022, three months after Ramirez’s death, W42ST requested that local officials be given the opportunity to see video footage of three men leaving the Ritz Bar & Lounge with Julio. To date, this video has not been seen other than by police and senior management at The Ritz.”

W42ST has also contacted local bar owners to see if they will post notices or hand out this advice to their patrons, suggesting they switch off their Face ID when entering their bars. As of the writing of this article, W42st did not hear back from any of the establishments they contacted. [Ironically I am heading to Hells Kitchen in a few hours to meet friends for dinner, will see if we see any of the flyers are visible.]

Stay safe out there folks. Watch out for each other. Trust your gut. F you see something that looks fishy –  say something. Not in a Karen way, but in a ‘we are all in this together’ kind of way. Don’t let your tipsy friend leave with three people you two just met tonight. And shut off your Face ID, don’t let these fuckers get your money.



(**This post is solely the opinion of this contributing writer and may not reflect the opinion of other writers, staff or owners of Instinct magazine.)


3 thoughts on “NYC Gay Bars: “Switch Off Face ID In Case You Get Drugged And Robbed””

  1. This is happening because gay men have normalized predatory drugging the bars. You’re better off just not going to gay bars anymore, they were never safe spaces and you have safer alternatives. Gay bar owners and managers used to discourage the drug dealers and the drug crowd, they now encourage them.

  2. Be careful out there gays there are people out there who are targeting you because you’re gay. Ugh what a sick world. Thanks for the article I live around there.


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