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