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Dear PoPville – Be Aware of Unmarked Cars Offering Rides in the U Street Area

by Prince Of Petworth July 14, 2011 at 11:30 am 81 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user Sanjay Suchak

“Dear PoPville,

On Sunday morning around 4:45AM I was at the corner of Vermont and U flagging down a cab for a ride to the airport for a business trip. A cab going in the opposite direction was in the process of making the U turn to get to me when another car pulled up right in front of me and the guy inside told me to get in and he would give me a ride anywhere I wanted to go. I was a little taken aback by the offer and didn’t respond at all so he offered again. At this point, an older guy walking by behind me asked loudly if everything was OK. The guy who pulled over didn’t move so the older guy asked again if everything was OK. By this point the cab was right behind the car so I thanked the older guy, said yes, and got in the cab.

Later in the day, I was telling the story to a friend who suggested I let the police know. The woman at 311 was upset with me for waiting so long to report it and the police were glad I called. Apparently they have had quite a bit of this happening recently. Previous reports had been of two black men who were pulling over to ask for sex and when refused, showing a knife. He added that I was the 2nd person to report a white man doing this that night.

Despite the hour (or maybe because of it), U Street still had a lot of pedestrian traffic. I’m 5’10” and was freshly showered, wearing work clothes. I say these things because I wouldn’t have considered myself an obvious target – I wasn’t on an empty street, I didn’t appear at all intoxicated or still out from a night of fun, and I’m not petite (and therefore potentially an easier grab). I’m urban savvy enough to be aware of my environment and like to think of myself as pretty smart. This, though, caught me totally off guard. Now, I’ll be much more aware of people in cars and not just the people walking by. I don’t have any intention of becoming a paranoid homebody but I’ll definitely keep my eye out for this potential problem.

The police officer mentioned the gypsy cabs too as a possibility but said he suspected this was trouble, especially since they’ve been seeing a rise in this recently and given the hour, location, etc.. From the sounds of it, yes there are two – one is a car with two black men (working together) and the other (the one I encountered) a single white man.

Thought maybe others would like to know as well.”

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