Kansas City police warn ride-sharing customers about sexual assault risk

Police: 7 assaults reported since '14 holidays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Police Department wants those using ride-sharing companies to stay safe during the upcoming holiday season.

Since the holiday season last year, there have been at least seven sexual assaults involving ride-sharing usage.

The concept of lining up a ride is to stay safe, but it could put your safety in jeopardy.

"You wouldn't put your child in a car with a stranger, so why would you get into to a car with a stranger?" Sgt. Cleve Blakely, a detective with the KCPD's Sex Crimes Unit said.

Police said some of the sexual assault cases remain unsolved.

"Typically, they'll say that they got into a private ride-sharing service and can't describe the vehicle. They can't describe the person to us," Sgt. Blakely said.

So before you get leave home this holiday, here are some tips to follow:

1. Have a sharp eye

"With a private cab service, they'll send a photo of the vehicle to your cell phone, so compare the photo on your phone to the person," Sgt. Blakely said.

2. Pay with a credit card

"It's the electronic transaction of accepting a ride. It gives us a place to start in case something happens," Sgt. Blakely said.

3. Once you're inside, sit in the back

"So you're not within arm's length if they decide to assault you," Sgt. Blakely said.

4. Make sure you communicate

"Let a friend know where you're going and who you're with," Sgt. Blakely said.

Sgt. Blakely tells 41 Action News he believes there are many more cases out there that go unreported because the victims are simply embarrassed.

But he say there is help for those victims and encourages them to speak up.

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