City Desk

How to Fight Cab Rape

If, walking down the street, you suddenly realize you're being followed, or you're too drunk to make it home safely on your own, hailing a taxi is usually a fine idea. But Saturday, The Washington Post reported that there might be a reason not to: A man posing as a cabbie has been sexually assaulting women.

District police are searching for a man they say posed as a cab driver and sexually assaulted two women in separate early morning incidents this month in the District. The driver, described as being of Middle Eastern descent and between 30 and 40 years old, is alleged to have picked up one woman in Dupont Circle on May 11 and attacked her in the 300 block of 18th Street Nether second assault occurred on May 22 in the 3700 block of Quebec Street NW after the driver picked up a woman in Georgetown, police said.

The suspect hasn't been caught yet, and it's a bad situation for both female passengers looking for a safe way to their destination and taxi drivers trying to eke out a living. Though we'd all like to think we could spot an imitation taxi, MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump actually says she can't "confirm that the cab is fake" at this point.

So City Desk asked her what women should do besides keep an eye out for a creepy hack. Her suggestions—which could make you feel a little paranoid—are mostly about gathering information on the cab you're stepping into and then dialing 911 the moment there's the sense that something is wrong.

  • When traveling late at night, travel with a companion.
  • Get a description of the cab, including company name, cab number.
  • Get the driver's information from the displayed placard.
  • If it appears that the driver is going out of the way of the passenger's destination or passing the destination, contact the police.
  • If the taxi driver is appears to be parking or stopping the cab in a remote location, contact the police.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • noodlez

    PROBLEM: BLACK MEN CAN’T CATCH A CAB BECAUSE TAXI DRIVERS "FEAR US" AND WHITE WOMEN DONT WANT TO CATCH A CAB BECAUSE THEY "FEAR THEM".

    SOLUTION: BROTHERS COORDINATE WITH A WHITE GIRL GENTRIFIER TO HAIL CAB SO THAT BOTH OF YOU ARE GOING IN SAME DIRECTION. GET ALL OF 'SAMID THE TAXIDRIVER' INFO WHEN YOU EMBARK.

    BE GENTLEMAN AND LET SAID WHITE GIRL GET TO DESTINATION FIRST. IF SAMID REFUSES TO TAKE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO THEN YOU HAVE HIS INFO AND A WITNESS FOR DISCRIMINATION SUIT. IF HE TAGS WHITE GIRL ON THE ASS THEN YOU CAN PUNCH HIS LIGHTS OUT DEFENDING HER AND FOR PUTTING YOU THRU ALL THE BULL SHIT.

  • DC

    Chances are if you hailed the cab because you're too drunk to get home on your own you're also too drunk to remember or record the details from the driver's license. And that won't help if the cab has been stolen or borrowed, or is just a "fake." At least look to be sure that there IS a license on display and a meter on the dash before you get in the cab, and if the driver doesn't start the meter as the trip starts something's wrong. And -- hard to believe -- not everyone has a cell phone at the ready to call police if the driver makes a wrong turn (although maybe they should). Maybe a solution is not to get so drunk that you're vulnerable, and call a cab company to pick you up at a club or restaurant rather than hailing one on the street late at night. And whether they adopt a medallion system or not, cleaning up the cab business so all cabs are standard yellow and no more than five or six years old and linked to GPS systems would make it much harder for a bad guy to drive around in a fake cab, and much easier to catch a real driver who does something wrong.

  • minc

    Thanks for writing about this -- although it adds to the frustration I sometimes feel as a woman living in a city. I don't plan on getting wasted this weekend, but I do plan on going out. And since I live alone, I plan on going back to my place unaccompanied. These all seemed like reasonable activities when I began planning my weekend... I don't have a car so my options for getting home are a) a cab, though police recommend I have a companion for that; or b)the Metro -- and I once attended a neighborhood meeting where MPD suggested we have a companion when walking home from the Metro at night.

    Now that I know what *I* can (or can't) do, I'd be interested in knowing what the police will be doing...

  • VictoriaSmith

    I hope the women learned their lesson. I am a mother of two, ages 5 & 15 years old. Sometimes when I forget a couple of things, I buy at a nearest store. I remind my son that whenever something happens, he just needs to click a panic button on his phone. It's a safety application called SafeKidZone, with just a click it alerts me and other members of his safety network thru sms and email. It can even bridge a conference call with the 24/7 call center and if needed, gets help from the nearest 911. Check this http://SafeKidZone.com/

  • Byells

    VictoriaSmith, that is completely the wrong outlook - what lesson are you suggesting they learn?!

    I think blaming these women or hoping they learned their lesson is the wrong attitude. They were intoxicated -- did NOT drive, and rather took a "safe" approach to getting home. Would you rather them try to drive and potentially hurt themselves or others? Rather, now single women have to be worried that the person who literally has their life in their hands (in their vehicle) is going to sexually attack them in that car that they're locked in!?

    I am a single woman who lives alone who has left bars solo when friends have wanted to stay out and I am done with the evening. All I have to say to this person who is attacking females -- I'll be carrying mace from now on.

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