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Police: Passengers Sexually Assaulted in Cabs

IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) -- Iowa City Police are investigating three separate sexual assaults on three different female cab riders in the last month.

Police say, in all three instances, taxi cab drivers made unwanted sexual advances on their female passengers.

For many women, however, getting into a cab at the end of the night often seems like a safer choice than walking. "So when we see reports of inappropriate actions on the part of drivers that end up threatening the safety of their passengers, that's concerning," said Women's Resource and Action Center director Linda Stewart Kroon.

Kroon said, there are a few ways that passengers of any gender can feel safer in a cab. First, try to find a friend to ride with. Second, if a rider starts to feel uncomfortable, she can make a request to get the driver to pull over immediately. If all else fails, Kroon said, don't hesitate to call 911.

"I would like to think that our cab companies, too, can step up in a situation like this," she said.

Rafat Alawneh is the owner of Number 1 Cab. He said, making sure his passengers feel safe is his top priority.

"It is actually scary. You need a safe community, you need safe taxi drivers, and that's why they call the cab, because they assume it's a safe way to ride home, " Alawneh said.

Alawneh has a tracking device and a camera in each of his cabs, and dispatchers keep in touch with drivers every few minutes -- Alawneh's wife is one of them.

"If you make those females feel safe, they will call us again," he said.

And said his business can't afford to lose those customers.

American Cab was the only company identified in any of the assaults. An employee with American Cab said the company did not have enough information from police to identify a suspected driver.
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