San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Three Rapes a Week Committed by Taxi Drivers

BETWEEN three and five women eachweek are sexually assaulted by taxi drivers,according to the Judicial Investigation Police(OIJ), the daily Al Día reported.The assaults are committed mostly inthe western San José suburb of Escazú andthe eastern suburb of San Pedro; typicalvictims are women between the ages of 15and 24 who are traveling alone late atnight, according to the report. Rapes haveoccurred in formal licensed taxis as well asin unlicensed “pirate” taxis.The rapists often make use of one oftwo common scenarios, OIJ investigationsshow. One involves a driver telling the victimthat he has to stop for gas, driving herto a secluded street and threatening herwith a knife or a gun. The second involvesan accomplice entering the taxi who thenproceeds to attack the passenger.Rándall Picado, chief of the NationalPolice, told the daily the number of activepolice officers on patrol in the affectedareas has been increased, but that the bestway to protect against these crimes is totake preventive measures.Such measures include avoiding travelingalone and checking to make surethat the driver has all of the proper identification,including license plates and ayellow triangle on the red door with alicense number. Licensed taxis alwayshave a meter, except official orange airporttaxis, which are clearly labeled. (Asof this week, licensed taxi drivers are alsorequired to wear uniforms – blue pantsand a white shirt – although not alllicensed drivers have made the change, AlDía reported Monday.)Officials advise passengers to use well traveledroutes; if you carry a phone, call afamily member or friend upon entering thetaxi to inform him or her of the licensenumber.

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