David Kennedy, 24, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, was robbed in a Harlem hotel known for its drug activity Wednesday night, according to police officials. A New York newspaper said Kennedy may have gone to the hotel in connection with narcotics.

Inspector Peter J. Prezioso said the police department had no confirmation that Kennedy was looking for drugs when he stopped his BMW automobile outside the Shelton Plaza Hotel. "He's the victim of a crime at this point," Prezioso said. "We have no reason to question him."

The New York Post quoted unidentified police officers as saying that Kennedy said he was in Harlem to buy drugs and telling them: "This can't get into the press. I'm David Kennedy, one of the sons of Robert Kennedy."

Several residents of the hotel said Kennedy had been there several times before. One woman who said she's seen him twice told reporters, "Anyone who comes here, you know the reason."

Prezioso said Kennedy told police he was driving on 116th Street near 8th Avenue when two men waved for him to stop near the Shelton Plaza. He went into the entrance of the hotel with them and was robbed of $30, the inspector said.

Police apprehended Sam Askins, 25, after they responded to an emergency call and reached the hotel, but Kennedy failed to identify Askins as one of his assailants when he saw him later in a police precinct lineup, Prezioso said.

One police officer climbed the hotel stairs and found 25 glassine envelopes of heroin on the third floor landing, the inspector said. "There's no belief at this time that there is any connection between those narcotics and Kennedy and Askins in the lobby, two floors below," he added.

Narcotics detectives are investigating the role heroin played in the incident at the Shelton Plaza, which police say is well known for drug-dealing activities on the premises. The hotel rents rooms by the hour, day or week.

Kennedy's car was impounded by police tonight. Police said it was being held for safekeeping. Kennedy had no comment on the incident, and could not be located.

Askins was held, despite Kennedy's failure to identify him, because police discovered two outstanding warrants for his arrest on grand larceny charges, Prezioso said.