Thames Valley Police is appealing for information in relation to two incidents of rape in Newbury which are believed to be linked.
On the evening of Friday 19 January this year, the victim, a woman in her twenties, left the Vault nightclub in Kennet Shopping Centre with a friend.
The victim and her friend walked across Market Street to a bus stop where they stayed for a period of time.
At around 1.30am (20/1) it is believed that the victim was alone and was picked up by a vehicle in Mayors Lane.
It is believed that this vehicle was a taxi, or someone purporting to be a taxi.
Our investigation has shown that the victim got out of the taxi and went to the cashpoint outside Megabet near St Michaels Road before returning to the taxi.
At some point after the victim was raped in the vehicle at an unknown location.
It is believed that the victim was raped by the driver, who is described as an Asian man.
The second incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday (24/2).
After police enquiries we have determined that the victim, a 29-year-old woman, left the Coopers Arms in Bartholomew Street in the early hours.
She got into a taxi near the roundabout at Inches Yard at around 4.20am.
The victim was driven to a property at an unknown location where she was raped.
The description of the driver is an Asian man, around 5ft 8ins, in his thirties and slim. He had a strong Asian accent.
Investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Matt Stone of Berkshire Force CID, said: “I am making an appeal today to anyone with information about either of these serious offences to contact the police immediately.
“Detectives investigating both incidents now believe the two offences to be linked.
“I want to assure the public that everything is being done to locate and bring the offender or offenders to justice.
“This is a complex investigation involving the obtaining and reviewing hundreds of hours of CCTV, carrying out painstaking forensic work as well as taking statements from potential witnesses.
“It is possible the offender or offenders have confided in someone about what they have done so if you have any information please do the right thing and come forward.
“The easiest way to contact the force is by calling 101 and quoting the reference number 782 (1/3). Alternatively, you can visit your local police station and speak to a member of staff.
“If you do not want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.
“Both victims continue to be offered ongoing support by specially trained officers and other specialist agencies. We would remind the public of the automatic anonymity afforded to victims of sexual offences.”
Deputy Local Policing Area Commander Lindsey Finch added: “As part of the ongoing investigation into these offences, officers will be carrying out high visibility patrols in the town over the coming days and into the weekend.
“The patrols will focus on the town centre area of Newbury and officers will be looking to speak to members of the public as part of the extensive investigation.
“I would urge people to only use licensed taxis. Where possible, book with a licensed taxi company in advance or if that is not possible, remember you can always ask for proof a vehicle or driver is licensed. It is also advisable to travel with a friend if you are going on a night out.”
“If you have any questions or concerns please speak to one of our officers who will be happy to help.”
Notes to editors
On Monday (26/2) a 40-year-old man from Newbury was arrested on suspicion of rape in connection with the offence on Saturday. He was further arrested later that day on suspicion of rape in connection with the offence on 20 January this year. He has been released under investigation in relation to both offences.
Any further updates will be published proactively.
If you have any information relating to this case, please call 101 quoting reference '782 (1/3)', or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.