Baltimore Police say they are investigating a string of robberies in which ride-hailing service drivers have been carjacked, with the robbers then using the app to pick up customers and rob them as well.
Police said they had made arrests, and were continuing to investigate with federal law enforcement authorities. They declined to provide details about the arrests, citing the ongoing investigations.
In one case, a Lyft driver said he picked up four men who asked for a ride to a location in West Baltimore. When they arrived, one of the passengers pulled a gun and took his cell phone, jewelry and the Jordan sneakers off his feet, and made him get in the trunk. He said they drove around with him in the trunk while robbing people, according to a report obtained by The Baltimore Banner.
A Lyft spokesman called the incident “deeply troubling” and said they had “permanently removed the rider profile from the Lyft community.”
“We have reached out to the driver to offer our support and are assisting law enforcement with their investigation,” the spokesman said.
There is also a GoFundMe page that was set up for a man who was abducted and robbed after ordering an Uber from West Baltimore in the early morning hours of Nov. 26.
“When the Uber arrived, he checked the tags and confirmed it was his ride,” the fundraising page says. “As he opened the door, someone stepped behind him with a gun, demanded his money and phone, struck him on the forehead with the handgun, and forced him into the back of the car.”
The victim said he was driven around the city for 45 minutes as the robbers demanded money and texted contacts in his phone demanding money from them. The robbers took him to an ATM and transferred money from his bank account using Cash App. He was dumped in Druid Hill Park. The account on the GoFundMe page matches what was reported to police.
WJZ-TV reported another incident involving a victim who called an Uber to leave the Horseshoe Casino around 1:30 a.m. Monday. While riding, the victim noticed that he was being driven in the wrong direction and began questioning the driver. At that point, the driver pulled over in the 1600 block of Bayard Street and another vehicle pulled behind them.
Police said several people carrying handguns approached the Uber and ordered the male to get out of the car. They then struck the male in the face multiple times, and demanded that he give them his cell phone.
Afterward, the people got back into the car and pulled off following the Uber. Meanwhile, the male ran to Russell Street where he called the police.
About 45 minutes later, Baltimore County Police officers responded to another reported robbery. This time, the robbery took place in the 6900 block of Blanche Road.
Similar to the other incidents, the victim had requested an Uber. When the Uber arrived, the victim was approached by multiple people and told to get into the car.
The victim was driven to an ATM, where the people attempted to have the victim retrieve cash.
Uber said in a statement issued Monday that “the safety of riders and drivers is paramount at Uber” and that the reported thefts “are deeply concerning.”
“We encourage riders and drivers to cancel trips if they don’t feel safe and remind riders to always double check the details of their ride—car make and model, driver name and photo, and license plate—before getting in,” an Uber spokesperson said in the statement. “We have a 24/7 team standing by to help with police investigations, and we look forward to supporting Baltimore area law enforcement however we can.”