I Was Drugged, Robbed and Left for Dead in Las Vegas and I Didn’t Even Get the Stupid T-Shirt

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movie still from The Hangover
A tiny bit like this. But more alone, and not very funny. (Image/Warner Bros. Pictures)

I couldn’t open the door and I was getting pissed.

Metal handle. The horizontal kind you grab and pull down easily. I really felt like I needed to get through that door. I was so frustrated.

So tired.


Where am I?

The cobwebs started to clear. I thought I’d been dreaming. Sleep walking, I guess, because I hadn’t been laying down.

I was in a gray stairwell. Nondescript. Industrial-looking. Cinderblock walls and metal stairs. Kind of dirty.

Holy shit. How did I get here?

I tried the door again. Locked.

Jesus. How long have I been here?

Since I couldn’t go forward, I went backward and started heading downstairs. I made the first turn down the stairs to the next floor and found my black hooded sweatshirt laying in the middle of the stairs. There was a stain on the chest. Kind of gross. I didn’t try hard to figure out what it was. I just put it back on.

I tried the next door I ran into. It opened.

Holy shit. This is the hotel I’m staying in.

But it didn’t make sense that I was in the hotel I was staying in because the last thing I remembered was celebrating the last night of a very long work week with friends at The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas—and our hotel was nowhere near The Golden Nugget.

Four of us were at a quasi-open-air bar by the blackjack tables where an hour earlier, I’d won about $140 at a $5 minimum table—my first ever Vegas blackjack game. (I have a poker-only policy most of the time because I don’t like playing the house.)

Three of my friends/co-workers and I were listening to a cheesy live cover band where the front man was kind-of, sort-of Elvis-y looking, but not really.

There were no bathrooms in this bar, so you had to leave the room and walk out onto the casino floor to use the restroom.

Sometime around midnight Vegas time, I excused myself from my friends to use the restroom, dropping a little cash in the cheesy cover band’s tip jar on the way out.

That’s the last thing I remember happening before “waking up” in that stairwell—because, again, I was never asleep as far as I know—in my hotel which is several miles away.

I was still dressed in the clothes I was wearing the last time I could remember anything. Jeans. A long-sleeve button-up with rolled-up sleeves.

My shoes were missing. I was wearing brown dress socks with a yellow stripe across the toes.

Where are my shoes?

Are they in my room?

Shit. I don’t have a room key.

I did the walk of shame in my socks and stained hoodie into the hotel lobby. I looked at the woman at the front desk and tried not to cry. I told her my name and room number. I may or may not have told her that I woke up in the hotel stairwell and that I didn’t remember how I got there.

I told her I knew EXACTLY how that sounded coming from some asshole stranger in Las Vegas.

But she was kind when she didn’t have to be and gave me a room key.

I didn’t want to be the guy who got drunk in Vegas and ventured out into the hotel with no shoes, no wallet, no phone, but it would have been nice to find those things.

I got back to my room and none of that stuff was there.

There was no reason to believe I’d been back in the room since I’d left to go out the night before.

I glanced over at my laptop open on the hotel room work desk.

There were emails from my bank notifying me of suspicious activity on my bank debit card.

I called the number. I told them exactly where I’d last used my card to pay for dinner.

They told me it had been used at some local pharmacies and a Wal-Mart since then. I assured them it wasn’t me, and they cancelled the card.

I went to the computer to see about locating my phone. Apple’s Find My iPhone feature showed me the last place it had been pinged.

Cool. I can get my phone and wallet back, I thought. I foolishly believed they’d take the money and cards and throw the rest in a trash can or ditch.

But I kept refreshing the Find My iPhone page. And the phone kept moving.

There was a police station just a few blocks from my hotel.

I walked there in black dress shoes that looked out of place with my blue jeans and green t-shirt I’d changed into. They were the only shoes I had left.

When I arrived to file a police report and ask for help recovering my property, I was told that wouldn’t happen. That I could file a report, and that I would hear back from a detective in seven to 10 business days.

“I was supposed to be on a plane back home this morning. I’m going to miss that flight. I don’t have any money or identification,” I told the guy. I was trying to not cry again.

That’s when he told me that they won’t send police after lost or stolen phones. After I thought about it long enough, I finally understood why. They’re not going to risk a public safety incident over some tourist’s phone, wallet and shoes.

But it was hard to think about the dickbag driving around town with my stuff—literally having a location on them—and not being able to do anything about it.

Author’s Note: To any of my friends or parents who might be seeing this, I’m so sorry if this is how you’re finding out about this. I still don’t have a phone, but I’m going to try to get one as soon as I publish this, and I don’t have any money outside of my retirement account, so mom and dad, I’m probably going to owe my friends a bunch of it. I’m not into charity, but I think I’ll accept some now. I promise to call you as soon as I have a working number again.

I was still alive.

I felt VERY bad physically—near as I can tell, I’d been awake for 30 straight hours, which was a new personal record—but I was alive.

Once I took a few minutes to think about everything that could have happened, I was at my hotel. I had a few friends in the building who all expressed relief that I was still alive and offered me all the money they could to help me get home.

We extended my hotel stay another night. The airline put me on a new flight the following day. The hotel printed out a copy of my police report for me since I didn’t have a phone or access to a printer.

I was able to reach my ex-wife at her office and explain what happened. I tried to not cry again.

She was kind. She always is when I need it most.

She was okay. Our son was safe. She offered to help above and beyond anything I’d have ever asked for. I just wanted her to know I’d be a day late and that I didn’t have a phone anymore.

Somehow, some way a person or two identified me as a good target.

Pretty smart. I was a great target. They got all my shit. I was no threat to stop them. And I left town without anything bad happening to them.

They’re still out there, and they’re going to do this again to other people.

But I told one of my friends on the work trip with me: “Is it weird that I’m grateful to the robbers for bringing me back to hotel? I think it probably is. But they could have taken me anywhere. So I’m grateful.”

I didn’t wake up in a bathtub full of ice.

I didn’t wake up in a ditch.

I’m not marked up. They left my private parts alone.

That could have been the end of the story. A pathetic not-entirely-sober walk to a casino hotel bathroom, then—BAM—dead.

An end I could neither see nor feel coming. Just a fade to black.

But, no.

Not just yet.

I have more to say, but I’m going to save most it for tomorrow.

I’m home now. With a laptop and internet access, at least. And my first legit sleep in a few days.

Turns out, If you have a police report, the airline will let you on a plane if you can get through airport security. Airport security won’t be as nice to you as the airline will, but if you answer a bunch of super-personal questions (I had to tell them exactly how old you are, mom. Sorry!), they eventually let you go after they fondle your junk for a couple of minutes in front of a hundred people.

Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about how the pain of divorce taught me emotional intelligence, and how this situation where I believe I was given what I presume to be a date-rape drug. Rohypnol. Roofies. I’m pleased to tell you I know nothing about them, but for the first time I think I know what it’s like to have your free will taken away from you by people with bad intentions.

Maybe this was the Universe’s way of giving me a more up-close and personal peek into rape culture.

Because now I KNOW what it feels like to “wake up” and feel a kind of shame and embarrassment and confusion that I’ve never known before.

Now I KNOW what it’s like to see people look at you side-eyed like “Yeah. Surrrrrrrrre that’s what happened. Oh, so you were drinking alcohol? And a bunch of details are fuzzy? Of course they are. Your shoes are missing? I wonder why someone would take your shoes?”

Yeah, I don’t fucking know either. But it’s what happened.

And I was one of lucky ones.

I’m so sorry for all that you’ve been through, ladies. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to be called “stuck-up bitches” for protecting yourself from strangers in bars. I’m so sorry that you sometimes go to the restroom in groups because you’re CONSTANTLY on alert to avoid something I’d successfully and obliviously avoided for 40 years of life.

I finally see you. I was getting close already. I’m a lot closer now.

To be continued.

Love you guys.

37 thoughts on “I Was Drugged, Robbed and Left for Dead in Las Vegas and I Didn’t Even Get the Stupid T-Shirt”

  1. How awful! There are so many cameras in casinos, there has to be something to go on. It is outrageous that a detective won’t even follow up for weeks. I am not sure what you have done so far but the hotel definitely needs to follow up. I would think something like this would be a priority since it is a threat to the tourism industry (sadly, the almighty dollar is the prime motivation for businesses to protect their customers)

  2. Holy F*ck, Matt-man!
    I can’t tell if you are the luckiest or unluckiest person I know.
    I’m glad you’re safe, glad you’re home.
    I am not the least bit surprised that you are pulling deeper meaning out of it.
    Can you tttrrrryyyy to be a little safer, though?
    I mean, the world would lose out big time if you were suddenly just not here anymore.

    1. Matt, seriously though.
      Even though you’re looking outward to what other people’s experiences may feel like- it can be hard to process something like this happening *to you*.
      I am really sorry you had an experience like that. It can make anyone feel powerless.
      Hope my first comment wasn’t too callous.

  3. That’s the last thing I remember happening before “waking up” in that stairwell—because, again, I was never asleep as far as I know—in my hotel which is several miles away.

    Did they drug you? Did they hit you on the head? Coliform and a rag? I ask this, so others can learn from your experience? 2 or 3 people in the hallway?

    Good you make it out OK.

  4. What a terrible experience, but I am grateful that you are here to tell the story. I also like that you understand better the situation with women in a bar and how easily something similar can happen. I hope you stay safe and that you get your phone and wallet returned to you. Thank goodness your computer was still in your room! What happened to your friends?

  5. Oh my god! I’m so sorry Matt!! Glad you’re alive! The world wouldn’t have been the same without you (:

  6. I am sorry this happened to you. It sounds discombobulating in the extreme. It is indeed something many women are alert to all the time. I would not have wished that anyone had reason to understand that the way you now do.

    Still, thank you for that understanding now.

    I might suggest that you apply as much compassion to your own soul as you can. And patience with letting vulnerability settle. It wasn’t your fault.

  7. I’m so sorry this happened to you,Matt! I really don’t understand how the police didn’t want to follow your phone, not to get back your phone but to catch this people that obviously know what they are doing and probably do it a lot. I don’t think I want to go to Vegas now, knowing the law enforcement don’t take this kind of stuff seriously. Really scary! Also I’m super proud of you and how you use every opportunity to learn from. You’re a pretty amazing person. If I was younger I might try to end up in your town ?

  8. Whoa. That’s so scary I hardly know what to say.

    You and I are part of the same club, I got roofied once, a long time ago, but thankfully I was with a large group of friends who took care of me when I eventually blacked out. I have very little memory of the events themselves though.

    It’s a distressing, disorienting experience, to say the least. My heart goes out to you.

    Is there anything I can do? I don’t know what that could be, given the distance between our locations, but I consider you a genuine friend, and friends are there for each other. If ever you feel like you wanna reach out, I’ll be here, friend.

  9. Wow. An edge-of-the-seat story, well told and true. That doesn’t happen often in this life. I’m really glad you’re ok. The response of the police is maddening; this was way more than the usual phone grab. You have the communication skills to make a big stink about this – get it on the TV stations in Vegas, complain to the local politicians, etc. You never know, you might end up exposing some serious police corruption; if they know who are doing this or are being paid off, they may be looking the other way intentionally.

  10. How terrifying. So sorry to hear this, Matt, and hope you make a steady recovery in heart, body and soul. We’re here and we’re listening when you’re ready to tell us how you’re feeling and what you most need. We will all learn from this with your help. ♡

  11. Matt–so glad you survived; that was definitely trending towards down one kidney in a bathtub full of ice. And who else but you could tie this to your ongoing narrative of introspection and responsibility in relationships? You’re the best. xo

  12. I’ve been reading you for a long time, now. This report gave me the heebiejeebies… WE stayed at THE GOLDEN NUGGET a few years ago. I am so sorry for your experience. But, you are so right in realizing how lucky you were. The police sound like ASSHOLES. Guessing you can’t afford to hire a private detective. How maddening!!
    So you now understand a lot more about what too many have gone through regardless of their sex.
    I hope you somehow are able to recover what was physically taken. And I am sorry, but what was taken from you MENTALLY…. EMOTIONALLY…. may take even longer to recover

  13. Matt….yikes! I was waiting for the punchline, the satirical twist, as I was reading this but, no, not this time. I’m so glad you’re safe; it could have been so much worse. And I appreciate that you’re choosing to use this unusual experience to gain insight into the plight of women everywhere.
    Take care, friend.

  14. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I’ve been sending you healing energy and hope you can get things settled quickly.

  15. I kept waiting for the “This happened to someone I know” part. This felt very scary to read because obviously after a few long-distance internet interactions and sporadically reading your blog, I feel I know you.

    Know you enough to be frightened for you. Know you enough to be chilled to the bone reading this and envisioning it and putting myself in your socks (because, obviously, your SHOES were stolen.)

    I’m relieved to hear you’re safe and home. Getting your life back in order is always an ordeal after stuff like this. But I’m relieved you’re okay.

    All the best,

  16. Whoa! This is nuts. I’ve only been to Vegas once (with ten other gals) and we stuck together like glue for the weekend. Also nobody in their right mind would want to roofie eleven New Yorkers- one of whom carried mace ?. I’m glad you’re ok. Take some time to recover, that’s a real violating experience.

  17. Holy cow – I am so sorry this happened and yes, you are incredibly lucky to be alive.

    I also hope you have contacted the big three credit bureaus and alerted them to the possibility of identity theft. Also you health insurer. Yes, they can use your health insurance and YOU may pay the price in the future if they give you a drug that you’re allergic to, but your identity thief isn’t (allergic to).

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  19. Hey Matt, i follow your blog regularly, big fan – when i saw this post my stomach dropped. Something VERY similar happened to me in Vegas the last time i went. I had 1 drink at the pool party, next thing i know i wake up in the hospital (a good 45 minute drive away from where i was staying on the strip nonetheless) with no phone, no money and no cards. They were kind enough to let me keep my ID however…

    I was told i was unresponsive outside of Bally’s in my bathing suit, and that an ambulance was called, apparently some cab had dropped me off there – I’m assuming it was the bartender at the pool party that drugged me(and i have heard other very similar stories recently of this happening), i remember nothing after having that first drink – and believe me, im no lush i can handle my alcohol.

    When i was released from the hospital, i called my credit card company, my card was used at the pizza hut, booster juice and they tried to withdraw a large amount from an atm at the tropicana hotel but it was declined. my phone was turned off so i couldn’t ping it on find my iphone – i called my provider and had them lock the phone so that basically it would be unusable.

    I was given the same spiel from the police, 7-10 days bla bla blah, but my flight was the next day. the hotel security was largely unhelpful. One security guard was sympathetic and probably just trying to humor me, but I had asked to get copies of the security footage so i could see what cab company dropped me off – of course all the cabs look the same there, but they said they couldn’t release it without a police report, and it would take 7-10 days.. so useless to me. My face was super swollen from whatever they gave me, and it took me a good 4-5 days to feel physically better.

    I think that it’s obviously some kind of scam some shitty people have going on to target tourists, so you are not alone on this one! Regardless, I’m sorry that this happened to you and glad you are ok!

    1. Hey Stacey.

      Yeah. Our stories are similar, aren’t they? Goodness. I’m so sorry that happened to you, and I’m so sorry it’s happening to other people.

      They made a mistake with PayPal, I think, and I believe I have a digital receipt of an attempted transaction from my PayPal to his with his name, profile photo and email address.

      All of which checked out with a Las Vegas resident I was able to find via Google.

      I wrote everything up and spoon fed it to Las Vegas PD. I got specific times and street addresses for all of the ATM withdraws. If security footage shows the same face from the PayPal profile, I think this man will get his comeuppance.

      We’ll see.

      Stacey. Thank you for sharing your story. As I imagine you know, it’s always healing somehow to learn that you’re not the only one who experienced something bad.

      I really appreciate this.

      1. Kristen L Abbinante

        Matt, I know we have discussed this before, but I am totally outraged that this is not an absolute priority for the Las Vegas police and hotel security!

        This is not “just” a property crime. This is a deliberate poisoning for monetary gain. This is a true public safety threat.

        Imagine if you were overdosed to the point of brain damage or death!?
        Well, then it would be a priority (I would think but from how they are treating you, Stacey and others, who knows?)

        I am disgusted and embarrassed to be part of law enforcement when I hear these accounts.

        Anyone and everyone who lives or travels to Las Vegas should be extremely concerned that this is not viewed as a public safety priority and not given the attention it deserves.

        The Chief of Police owes you and the public answers as to why this is not an immediate priority. Maybe press exposure will speed up this process and most importantly, get these criminals off the street.

      2. Oh man, Good investigation work on your end!! I really hope they pursue this and get the guy! Fingers crossed for you! TC

  20. Dear Matt, Dear God! I am so sorry this happened. If the Forces of Darkness tried to put out your Light this year, they’ve failed miserably. You’ve had one hell of a year, but each time you’ve endured the unendurable, and your angels made sure you are still here. We need you.

    Others have said it very well, that this is not your fault. You are blameless. You were assaulted, but you are tough as nails and you survived, thank God. You are already on your way to thriving again. With your permission, I’d like to put your name on a prayer list, if that’s okay with you.

    I’m not a lawyer, but if you know anyone who can give you legal advice, it sounds like you might be able to get some kind of compensation from one of these hotels. At least I sure hope you can. This is so horrific I’m struggling with finding words to express how it makes me feel.

    One thing I see in all of these caring comments is how beloved you are. You are cherished. You are meant to be here. I’m thankful you are.

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  22. Yikes, glad you’re ok! And I appreciate you sharing how this changed your perspective on women’s stories. I found it weird that you referred to your friend as “super-pretty”- that makes is sounds like prettier women are more likely to get raped? Which is not true and quite a harmful idea. “You’re too ugly to rape,” is literally something women are told when they try to report sexual assault.

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