AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A man was arraigned on charges of indecent assault and battery after posing as a fake Uber driver at UMass. Basic advice to stay safe includes traveling with a friend and letting others know where your going and when you’ll be back.
The incident happened at UMass Amherst on Saturday, September 3rd at about 3:30AM. 18-year-old Samuel Texidor of Holyoke approached a woman in his black Dodge Charger and identified himself as a Uber driver. He was not. Texidor offered the victim, who will not be identified, a free ride from the Townhouse Apartment to the North Apartments.
“It’s terrifying,” said UMass Sophomore Samantha Brank. “I use Uber all the time. I try not to do it alone but it’s still scary.”
There are lots of options to get around campus. Bicycles, the PVTA buses, and a UMass Walking Escort Service. The problem is that no one we spoke with knew about it.
Blue light emergency call boxes alert police with the touch of a button. Located all over campus, including at North, UMass says they’ve been overlooked. “Those are a valuable part of our safety system. What really has happened over time though is that people use their cell phones,” said UMass Amherst campus spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.
We asked UMass if they’d consider revising their pepper spray policy to allow students to protect themselves. You don’t need an FID card to carry it in Massachusetts, but it’s banned on campus.
“I think it’s within our right to carry pepper spray and I think it should be allowed as a personal safety measure,” said UMass freshman Sarah Perno.
UMass didn’t comment on the pepper spray question. As for Texidor, he was arrested. UMass Police says you should go through the Uber app if need a driver. You’ll be able to see their name, license plate number, photo and rating.
UMass Police suggest the following person safety tips:
- Verify Uber driver credentials against the confirmation you receive from the service before entering a Uber vehicle. When you’re matched with a driver, you will see their name, license plate number, photo, and rating, so you know who is picking you up.
- Customer requests via the app, is the recommended way to engage the Uber service.
- Remain aware of your surroundings as you walk on and off campus. It is always helpful to walk with someone when possible.
- Trust your instincts, if you feel uneasy or sense something is wrong, get away and call for assistance. Be alert, if you feel uncomfortable about someone near you, head for a populated area.
- When you go out, let a friend or roommate know where you will be and when you will return
- Avoid walking alone at night.
- If you are out after dark, use only well-lit routes. Walk near the curb and avoid passing close to shrubs, dark doorways, and other hiding places.
- Don’t leave a social event with someone you’ve just met or don’t know.
- Perpetrators are responsible for sexual assaults. Perpetrators take advantage of vulnerability and seek opportunities to commit sexual assaults.