Cab owners, police share safety tips following sexual assaults i - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cab owners, police share safety tips following sexual assaults in taxis

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Rafat Alawneh is the owner of #1 Cab in Iowa City. Each of his cars have cameras and when drivers are working they're required to constantly radio their location.

"It's a business first, for us as a family business, second is a community service," said Alawneh. "We're here for the community."

He was disappointed to learn three women reported sexual assaults by cab drivers in Iowa City recently. In the reports, women got into cabs downtown and then drivers either pulled over, or once they got to their final destination, the driver got out and made unwanted sexual advances.

"It's a matter of tracking down cabs. It's a matter of talking to a lot of folks and kind of sort out who would have been out," said Lt. Bill Campbell, Iowa City Police Department.

Finding the driver or drivers involved has been difficult because the victims have not been able to give police much information.

When you get into a cab, officers say you should:
  • Check out the make, model, and color of the vehicle.
  • Snap a picture of the driver's name on the taxi license.
  • Call a friend and let them know you're in a cab.
While most drivers are safe, they are still strangers.

"This is not the norm for what happens in cab rides in Iowa City," said Campbell. "Certainly we have had these incidents and we want to make sure we don't have any more of them."

Alawneh says if his drivers cause problems, they'll be fired.

"We want people to trust us," said Alawneh. "We want the females, males both to trust us."

Police tell us the most recent assault happened this weekend and involved a driver from American Taxi. We called the business but the manager was unavailable. An employee told KWWL she thinks the accusation will turn out to be false.

Police say there was another passenger in the cab this weekend when a woman was assaulted. He was dropped off in the area of Iowa Ave. and Dodge St. Saturday night around midnight. Police are asking for help finding him. It may help them identify the driver.
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