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Assaults prompt plans to boost bar security

A contingent of bar owners plans to team up with local police and bolster security because two women were sexually assaulted this month during what the victims thought were cab rides, officials announced yesterday.

After a brief meeting that included bar owners, city officials, and Boston and Cambridge police yesterday afternoon, proprietors and police disclosed informal plans to beef up closing-time security and to educate patrons about the dangers of riding in unlicensed cabs.

Police said they plan to distribute a flier explaining how to identify a licensed taxi, along with a sketch of the suspect, who is still at large, although police said it is unclear whether one man committed both assaults. Several bar and nightclub owners said they plan to hire extra security, especially for late at night when patrons are making their way home.

''We're just telling people to keep an eye out," Boston Police Superintendent Robert Dunford said after the meeting at Boston police headquarters. ''Maybe club staff noticed something in the past that didn't register."

Boston and Cambridge police are continuing to investigate the assaults, which happened about 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 17 and 24. In each case, a man approached the victim near Faneuil Hall and offered to take her home. He then took the victim to Alewife Brook Parkway near the Arlington and Cambridge line, assaulted her, and fled, police said.

Each attack involved a different vehicle -- a sport utility vehicle and a white car, respectively. The assailant in each case has been described as a man in his 20s.

Owners of about 50 establishments attended the meeting, which was closed to the media.

Police have warned that bar patrons should check taxi cabs for a hackney number before accepting a ride.

A picture identification card for the driver should be visible inside the vehicle, police said.

Anyone with information about the assaults is urged to call Cambridge police at 617-349-3301.

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