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Faux taxis a “bad ride,” BPD says

The next time students hail a cab after a late night of partying, the Boston Police Department recommends taking a long look at that car before getting in, or they ‘could be in for a bad ride.’

After a wave of assaults on women by phony limo and cab drivers, BPD issued a community alert on Dec. 17 to warn women to watch out when heading home alone. From Oct. 4 to Dec. 7, five women reported sexual and indecent assaults committed by men posing as off-duty cab and limo drivers, according to the alert.

Another similar assault has occurred since the community alert was posted, BPD spokesperson Elaine Driscoll said.

‘The victim was a male who reported that he may have been indecently assaulted by a taxi driver,’ Driscoll said.

Before the sixth assault, the victims were all women who were mostly in their twenties, Driscoll said.’

Although BPD said in the alert that the attacks are not connected, the complaints had similarities. Women traveling alone were attacked late at night and into the early morning.

The alert warns women to drink responsibly, to never sit in the front seat of a cab and to be aware of their surroundings late at night.

‘In some instances, the victim did report sitting in the front seat,’ Driscoll said. ‘Officers strongly advise against that practice.’

The majority of the incidents did not occur in licensed Boston cabs, Driscoll said.

Town Taxi Boston senior dispatcher Ed Neal said BPD issues licenses to his company’s drivers. The process to obtain a license includes a background check and drug test, he said.

‘Those women didn’t get into actual cabs, they got into guys’ cars that were out on the street,’ Neal said. ‘I’ve been here for 25 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a driver assaulting a passenger.’

‘These days, there are a lot of unmarked vehicles out there,’ Neal said. ‘If you’re getting into a cab, make sure it’s licensed.’

Making sure a Boston cab is legitimate will take more than looking for a yellow car or a taxi sign, Neal said.

‘I’ll even go a little further than that,’ Neal said. ‘When you get into a cab, make sure you know the number of the cab.’

The alert issued by the BDP also recommends that a passenger make note of the taxi medallion number on the front fenders, the back and on the rate card in the back of the taxi.

The BPD filed the community alert more than a week after the fifth assault occurred because of the dangers presented by the holidays.

‘Due to the holiday season, where more people are typically out and celebrating, we thought it was a good opportunity to remind people to celebrate responsibility and make safe decisions throughout their evenings,’ Driscoll said.

Driscoll said details on the most recent incident, as well as the others, are limited, because they are all ongoing investigations.

More details about the assaults will be released as investigations continue, Driscoll said.

Neal said that all things considered, the wave of assaults could have been much worse, and he is glad to be in Boston.

‘We’re a pretty safe city,’ Neal said. ‘It’s not like we’re New York or something.’

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