Columbia Police have reminded students to use the Rave Guardian app for their safety while they search for a potential attacker posing as a rideshare driver.
Students at the University of South Carolina (USC) have been told to be extra-cautious if they are approached by a man offering rideshares. The man - named as 28-year-old Farris Awni Kaloti by the USC Police Department - has a history of violence, sex offenses, drug and alcohol abuse, and is suspected of offering rides to female students and refusing to let them out of his vehicle.
Kaloti has been seen on and around the USC campus, and police are concerned that he doesn´t stand out from other students because of his youthful looks. After the suspect´s picture was circulated via Twitter, some students claimed to have seen him in the library, while others said he had been seen in the nearby Five Points center - a popular destination for USC students.
Police Issue Advice about Student Safety
While Columbia Police are investigating an alleged assault and searching for the suspect, USC´s Police Department have told students not to accept rides from strangers and to be careful if they are using a well-known ride-sharing service - advising they make sure the license plate listed on the Uber app matches the license plate on the back of the vehicle.
USC´s Police Department has also reminded students to use the Rave Guardian app to report suspicious activities around the campus and to put them in touch with the Police Department in the event of an emergency. Should a student be kept in any vehicle against their will, the geo-tagged location tracking feature of the app will enable police to locate the student quickly.
How the Rave Guardian App Can Enhance Student Safety
The reminder for students to use the Rave Guardian app is particularly appropriate for the current threat to personal safety, as the app puts students in touch with campus security or 9-1-1 with the touch of an icon. Students can also add friends, colleagues, and safety personnel as Guardians, and use the app´s safety timer feature to keep their Guardians advised of their location.
The Rave Guardian app creates a personalized safety network on students´ mobile devices and has been available for USC students since September 2015. Students at USC who have not yet downloaded the app can get it free of charge from the iTunes or Google PlayStore. To activate the app, they will subsequently need to register a profile using their university email address.
Update: Kaloti Arrested in Florida
On December 8th, university spokesperson Jeff Stensland announced that Kaloti had been arrested near Miami, FL in connection with open arrest warrants he had in Miami-Dade County. Pinecrest Police arrested Kaloti on outstanding warrants for assault and domestic violence, which Stensland said are unrelated to any alleged incidents involving students. Despite Kaloti´s arrest, the advice to USC students to use the Rave Guardian app remains in order to enhance their personal safety both on and off campus.