Women raped after Fanueil Hall cab rides

by Beacon Staff • October 5, 2005

According to a Cambridge Police Department Community Alert released Sept. 24, two women were sexually assaulted in the city in separate incidents between Sept. 17 and 24.,"With a fatal shooting on Monday and two reported rapes all within walking distance of the Emerson campus, police are telling students and residents in Boston to be vigilant when alone on the streets.

According to a Cambridge Police Department Community Alert released Sept. 24, two women were sexually assaulted in the city in separate incidents between Sept. 17 and 24. In each incident, a vehicle posing as a taxicab picked up a female in the Faneuil Hall area after 1:30 a.m. and brought her to the Alewife Brook Parkway area of Cambridge before assaulting her.

A silver or dark-colored SUV was involved in the first incident; a white taxicab was involved in the second. The suspects have been described as males in their early 20s.

"I am afraid to take a cab by myself," said Chelsea Lembo, a sophomore musical theatre major who lives at the DoubleTree. "You don't want to be a young girl traveling alone and I thought a cab would be safe, but after hearing about the rapes I don't want to risk it."

According to a Boston Police Department (BPD) press release published Sept. 26, the attacks "appear to be similar in nature."

The press release reminded the public to use licensed taxis, which are marked with an identifying registration (or hackney) number, located on the right rear passenger window of the cab. Taxis are also identifiable by "medallion" badges, usually visible as gold stickers on the front window. The operator should also have a picture ID issued by the police visible inside the taxi, the press release said.

The Emerson Escort Service, available 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily while classes are in session, will pick up students as far east as the intersection between Tremont and Cambridge streets, which is within walking distance of Faneuil Hall, according to Emerson College Police Officer Caleb Chabot.

Students in need of a pickup should call (617) 824-8559.

William McCabe, director of Public Safety at Emerson, said students should avoid being alone at night in unpopulated areas.

"The best protection students have is to not leave themselves vulnerable," McCabe said. "Excessively drinking, leaving the clubs with people they don't know or any other reckless behavior invites [crimes like] this."

McCabe said he urges students to stay safe by planning for the future and using the buddy system. "When a student goes out, they should always have plans," McCabe said. "Know how you are getting home and who you are leaving with."

He also said students should be careful at night, especially in and around the Boston Common. According to McCabe, every year there are one or two cases where a student is robbed or assaulted in the Common, which usually takes place during the early morning hours.

"I don't normally trust cabs anyway, but if I had to I would split the cab with someone else so I wouldn't be alone," said Katie Renkes, a junior marketing communications major who lives in Allston. "As a kid I was always told never to get into a strange car."

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