A 25-year-old woman who thought she was getting into a taxi early Saturday morning was instead driven away, severely beaten and then raped, Vancouver police say.

With no suspects in custody, authorities are now issuing a public warning after the chilling incident.

Police said the North Vancouver woman was in the 100-block of Water Street in Vancouver’s popular Gastown district. At around 2 a.m. she hailed a vehicle similar to a handicap taxi van.

“She got inside and realized it wasn’t a cab, it was a dark-coloured van with sliding doors on both sides. However, unfortunately once she was in the van it was too late,” VPD spokesman Const. Brian Montague said Sunday. “The man inside took her to an area in East Vancouver and severely beat and sexually assaulted her.”

The victim eventually fought off her attacker and ran for help. She found a passerby who helped her by calling 911.

Police are looking for a suspect described as aboriginal and in his mid-to-late 30s, about six feet tall and 225 pounds or heavier with a large belly and shaved head.

Montague said the van doesn’t appear to have been modified to look like a taxi and that the victim made an “honest mistake” getting in.

The woman is “extremely traumatized,” and is apparently so hurt she can hardly piece together details for police.

They’re hoping somebody will recognize the description of the suspect or the van.

Anyone with information is asked to call the VPD’s sex crimes unit at 604-717-0602 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.