WARNING: This story discusses sexual violence
Transit police in the Lower Mainland are investigating after a woman received several photos containing “extremely disturbing sexual threats” while on a bus in Surrey, believed to be from someone also riding the bus.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police say the incident happened around 11 p.m. on July 14, after the woman got on a bus at the Newton Exchange.
“Shortly after sitting down, she received multiple AirDrop messages that contained extremely disturbing sexual threats. The woman did look around the bus and noticed there was about 15 other people on board,” said Const. Mike Yake, transit police media relations officer.
Airdrop is a service on Apple iPhones and other products that allows a person to transfer a file to a similar device wirelessly.
The woman targeted by the messages shared the ordeal on Facebook on July 15.
She said that “within minutes” of sitting down, she received an AirDrop image request. The image was black except for a short sentence in white which read: “I’m going to rape you.”
The woman said that she then sent a screenshot of the AirDrop request to a friend, who offered to pick her up.
Before contacting transit police, the woman said she received the request twice more.
“I text[ed] them the screenshot and an explanation of the situation. They are helpful and start asking lots of questions, and some that I don’t have the immediate answer to,” according to her post.
Yake said the woman got off the bus at a stop in South Surrey to have her friend pick her up and transit police officers met her “a short time later.”
The incident, he said, is being “actively investigated.”
Yake said he can’t go into detail regarding the specific investigation techniques, “but we do have the ability through our investigation to possibly locate individuals who were on the bus at a specific time.”
As for incidents like this, Yake said transit police “strongly” encouraged people in the Lower Mainland riding on TransLink busses to “discreetly” text 87-77-77, “whether they’re feeling uncomfortable or in a situation that they feel is going to unfold.”
By texting that number the person will then be in “direct contact” with dispatchers and officers can be sent to wherever the incident is happening.
Yake added that reducing sexual offences is “one of Metro Vancouver Transit Police’s top-four priorities, so we take incidents like this extremely seriously and it’s going to be investigated to our full capabilities.”