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TOKYO — U.S. State Department officials have issued a security notice warning Americans to avoid bars and clubs in a popular part of downtown Tokyo after some customers said their drinks were spiked and their credit cards used.

Recently, the notice said, U.S. citizens had reported going to the businesses in Roppongi, an international district known for late-night bars and clubs. There, they were reportedly drugged and woke up to find that their credit cards had been used or stolen.

A spokesman for the Azabu Police Station of Metropolitan Police Department said Monday that he was unaware of any theft involving drugging in his jurisdiction, which covers the Azabu and Roppongi areas.

A person who recently complained of a "drugging robbery" tested positive for alcohol but no other drugs, said the spokesman, Masato Fujita.

Army and Navy spokesmen said Monday they had received the March 13 notice from the embassy’s Regional Security Office, and their commanders had passed it down the ranks. None reported any changes to liberty policies.

The notice did not say how many people were involved in the incidents or when the incidents began. The March 13 notice listed 11 establishments where "U.S. citizens have reported problems." However, a notice posted on the U.S. Embassy Web site dated March 17 made no mention of specific establishments. It did note that the highest number of reported incidents came from the Roppongi Intersection area (Roppongi-dori and Gaienhigashi-dori).

"The number of reports of U.S. citizens being drugged in bars has increased significantly in recent weeks," the March 17 notice said. "Because this type of crime is already widespread in Roppongi bars and is on the rise, the U.S. Embassy has recommended that members of the embassy community avoid frequenting drinking establishments in this area."

Fujita said customers should always be attentive to their belongings while at drinking establishments.

"For instance, at shot bars, where customers are asked to leave their bags and belongings in a locker, there have been some cases reported that wallets and credit cards were stolen," he said.

"In some cases, spare keys were used while in other cases, the lockers were broken," he said. "In other cases, wallets, cash or credit cards were picked from unattended bags, while bar patrons left their table, leaving their bags there."

In 2008, a total of 170 such theft cases were reported in Azabu and Roppongi, Fujita said. So far this year 20 cases have been reported in which victims were Japanese and non-Japanese, he said.

To view the latest security notice, go to http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-warden20090317-01.html

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