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BPD: Recent rideshare robberies part of an organized operation with minors

Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 18:21:07-05

BALTIMORE — A Baltimore woman is the latest victim in a series of rideshare carjackings across the city. A driver for Uber and Lyft is sharing his concern that without proper measures put in place, he or another driver could be next.

RELATED: Lyft driver carjacked at gunpoint in Northwest Baltimore in latest incident

"I really enjoy most, meeting the people of Baltimore because that really is what makes Baltimore a beautiful city and talking to the people," said Bob, a full-time driver in Baltimore.

He describes his everyday experiences as both rewarding and fulfilling.

But every now and then, he's robbed of his peace of mind by reports like the one he saw Tuesday.

That's when a Lyft driver picked up a customer on Chrysler Avenue around 3:35 and that customer pulled out a gun and told her to get out of her own car.

"Well, it's scary because I use Uber at night and to know that it was right in the area where I live at, it's very scary. It's dangerous," Patrice Smith shared.

It's scary for Smith and she's on foot, but it's even more concerning for Bob because he can be put in sketchy situations.

"There are times when I pull up in front of an address, but the person is coming out of another house, and I may have a female's name, but a male is coming out of the house. Those things are concerning," said Bob.

Neighbors in Northwest Baltimore share their concern after seeing multiple people use the Chrysler Avenue location for pickup when in fact, they live somewhere else.

"I do notice that a lot of people in the apartments across the street have their Uber or Lyft driver pick them up on this side and with those bushes there, it's very dangerous," said one neighbor.

It's a concerning matter for Baltimore police too.

They've made nine arrests so far in these types of cases, five just Tuesday alone, in two separate cars that were carjacked.

All of the people arrested were minors a part of what they call an organized operation.

MORE: Police: Lyft driver robbed, forced into own trunk by group of armed customers

"It's usually about five to six suspects. They rob a rideshare driver and they take their app and start answering calls," said BPD Deputy Commissioner Richard Worley.

Police aren't urging customers to pump the breaks on Lyft or Uber, but to accelerate their vigilance.

"When you order a rideshare, make sure you not only have the correct car, but make sure the driver is the person who's listed on the photo because that's what they're doing, as they're robbing the individual as they come to the Uber," said Worley.

For Bob, he's hopeful until this trend turns downward, rideshare companies will step in to increase safety measures for their employees like requiring verified photos for riders.

"They don't require a photograph for the rider so some riders will put in a NFT kind of thing, and they have fake names. So, they don't have real names so when you pick up a rider you don't know if that's actually the person who's getting in your car," Bob explained.

Until all of that's worked out, "We just have to be very very careful. Pay close attention to our surroundings and everything," said Smith.