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Public statement – Sexual Assaults involving taxi drivers

In response to the recent rash of sexual assaults involving taxi drivers, our Crime Analysis Unit has conducted a thorough analysis of similar incidents that have occurred in the last five years. We’re providing context so citizens can make informed decisions about their personal safety, and also outlining the police response so people are aware of what we’re doing to address the issue.

There have been 12 sexual assaults involving cab drivers since 2012: 2 in 2012, 1 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 3 in 2015 and 5 to date in 2016. We identified six suspects in seven of the twelve files. Charges have been laid in five; three are closed due to lack of solvability but will be reopened if additional information comes to light; another was closed at the request of the victim, a decision we respect as it’s her choice if she wishes to proceed with an investigation; and the remaining three are under active investigation. This chart depicts the disposition of each file:

Disposition

12-171495

Closed due to lack of solvability

12-176880

Closed due to lack of solvability

13-110397

Closed due to lack of solvability

14-118889

Charge of sexual assault laid

15-68472

Charge of sexual assault laid

15-84146

Charge of sexual assault laid

15-163253

Charge of sexual assault laid

16-70901

Investigation ongoing

16-82770

Closed at request of victim

16-101423

Charge of sexual assault laid

16-106352

Investigation ongoing

16-107173

Investigation ongoing

Commonalities include:

 

Offenders’ Profile: The offenders are described as men, in most cases with dark hair and between the ages 30-50. They commonly spoke with an accent.

 

Offenders’ Behaviour: The offenders are targeting women, aged 19-25 (in 11 of 12 cases), most of whom were travelling in the front seat. When committing the sexual assault, the offenders either had a lone female passenger in the taxi or waited until the woman was the only passenger left in the taxi.

In many of the incidents, the offenders insisted on no payment for the drive either before or after committing the sexual assault. The offenders often asked personal questions and attempted to flatter the victim.

In the majority of cases (9 of 12), the sexual assaults involved the offenders touching the woman in a sexual manner and forcibly kissing her, both during the taxi ride and at the woman’s destination. The offenders often attempted to pull the woman close to them. Some offenders asked for a kiss and/or forced a kiss.

 

Time & Place: All incidents took place between 8:30 p.m.-4:30 a.m., the majority on weekends and most often in spring/summer. The offenders most commonly picked up their fare in the downtown core.

 

The Police Response

We’re taking these sexual assaults very seriously and have a multi-faceted approach to addressing them:

·         Our Sexual Assault Investigation Team (SAIT) is thoroughly investigating each file, which involves working with Taxi & Limousine Services and individual taxi companies, who have been assisting with the investigations.

·         Our beat officers, members in both our Liquor Enforcement Unit and Quick Response Unit, as well as officers assigned to the Downtown Safety Strategy detail are actively engaging

with door staff and patrons in the downtown core, seeking any information on suspicious activity that’s worthy of note.

·         Our officers are discussing personal safety with downtown bar patrons and we’re also providing it here so people have full information about what they can do for their own personal safety:

o   Call a taxi instead of hailing one; this way, there’s a record of your request and which driver has been dispatched.

o   Before you get into a taxi, make note/take a photo of the taxi company name and roof light number. Once inside, make note of both the taxi license and driver license photo of the operator, both of which need to be clearly visible inside the taxi. Also ensure the taxi has a meter. If the required information or a meter is not present, don’t get in/get out immediately and call 3-1-1 to report a possible illegal taxi.

o   Sit in the back seat on the right-hand side of the vehicle, particularly if travelling alone, as it’s farthest from the driver and curb-side in the event you need to exit quickly.

o   Have your phone handy. If you ever feel uncomfortable while in a taxi, get out and/or call 9-1-1 immediately.

·         We’re interacting with taxi operators, highlighting that they, too, should report any suspicious behaviour to police. For their own safety, they should insist on lone passengers sitting in the back seat on the right-hand side of the vehicle. We remind the taxi industry that officers are available if they need police assistance at any time.

We have said this many times but must reiterate once again that the women who have been sexually assaulted have done absolutely nothing wrong and have every right to believe it’s safe to get into a taxi; it’s the perpetrators who are purposely targeting young women accessing their taxis. The offenders must stop this unacceptable and violent behaviour.

Anyone with information about these incidents or any others is asked to contact police at 902-490-5016. Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submitting a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca or texting a tip – Tip 202 + your message to 274637.

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Source: Media Release

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