Montreal police are warning residents to avoid taking taxis alone while under the influence, after a woman told police she was attacked in a cab last week.

The 26-year-old woman told Montreal radio station CJAD that she was in a cab after a night out with friends when the driver began making suggestive comments about her appearance, telling her she looked “sexy.”

The woman, who didn’t want to be identified, says when they arrived at her home in the city’s NDG neighbourhood, the cab driver tried to kiss her.

“It happened very quickly, he jumped over to the back and I was attacked and assaulted,” she said, adding she managed to get out of the cab and call authorities.

Police say there have been four similar cases since March. The woman is the 17th person this year to file a report of sexual assault against a cab driver, or someone posing as a cab driver, police say. Last year, there were 29 incidents in Montreal where a driver assaulted a passenger.

Last weekend’s incident is raising concerns about the city’s taxi industry, particularly since background checks are conducted on only a fraction of all the taxi drivers. Under Quebec law, a person convicted of an indictable or criminal offence is not allowed to obtain a taxi driver’s permit. However, there is no standard for background checks so the law isn’t being enforced.

“Of the 12,000 taxi drivers … in Montreal, 3,000 get background checks,” police spokesperson Ian Lafreniere told CTV Montreal.

Police say that those accused in the attacks may be posing as taxi drivers.

The government says they are working on guidelines for implementing background checks on taxi drivers.

The Montreal Taxi Bureau says it condemns the recent attacks and aims to provide “high quality and safe service to Montrealers.”

Take precautions

A police spokesperson told CJAD that women should take precautions by calling ahead for a taxi cab rather than hail one on the street, and never travel in taxis alone when under the influence.

Police also suggest that once in a cab, female patrons should take a photo of the driver’s badge and send the image to a friend via text message.

With files from CTV Montreal