Growing incidents of knockout attacks in Rome

Some victims being assaulted with knuckle dusters

Police in Rome are reporting growing cases of the violent phenomenon known as "knockout", whereby unsuspecting passers-by are punched in the face with the aim of knocking them unconscious.

This so-called "game", imported from America earlier this year, normally involves the attackers' friends filming their exploits to upload on social media. The attacks happen both during the day and night and the attackers make no distinction between age or gender – usually fleeing the scene without stealing anything.

Earlier in November an 80-year-old man was knocked out in the Vescovio area of Rome, near Villa Ada, leaving the pensioner with a fractured eye-socket, while in recent days another man was also knocked unconscious in the Centocelle district in east Rome. Neither victim was robbed.

However in recent months the violent trend – first reported in Trastevere in February – has spread to other parts of Rome where a growing number of victims are robbed after being assaulted.

Police in Quarticciolo in east Rome have reported an even more violent version of knockout whereby the attackers use brass knuckles or "knuckle dusters" to overpower their victims before robbing them. Police say this is an organised operation, comprising a man and a woman, and that there have been at least six such cases since the start of October.

The police are currently studying CCTV footage in the area as part of their investigation into the crimes.