MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minneapolis Police Department has issued an alert asking everyone to take precautions as more than 40 ride-share operators have been targeted since mid-August.
The informational citywide alert tells residents to stay aware of their surroundings as aggravated robberies and carjackings targeting ride-share operators from Uber and Lyft have increased in Minneapolis. Police say there have been over 12 incidents in the last seven days.
Ride-share operators should take extra precaution by staying aware of their surroundings even when in a locked vehicle, avoiding using their phone for more than a couple seconds, and being extra cautious while waiting for customers. Police say drivers should leave immediately if they see one or more vehicles or people approaching nearby when they are not in a populated area.
"These reports are concerning. Safety is a top priority for us and we are constantly working to use technology to enhance safety on the app for riders and drivers. We work closely with law enforcement to assist with investigations and are in touch with the Minneapolis Police Department," an Uber spokesperson told FOX 9.
Police say multiple incidents include some or all the following actions:
- A request for service is made from a stolen phone.
- An individual meets the ride-share driver and asks them to wait a few minutes.
- A group of armed individuals may arrive in one or more stolen vehicles and block the exit of the ride-share driver.
- The group of armed individuals surround the ride-share vehicle, demand the driver to exit the vehicle, and take the driver’s wallet, phone, and phone security code.
- Some drivers have been assaulted, including being pistol whipped.
- The group of armed individuals leaves in the vehicles they arrived in and take the ride-share vehicle, as well.
- Vehicles used by the suspects are typically listed as stolen and/or have stolen plates or no plates.
If you become the victim of this type of crime, police say:
- Give up the vehicle - do not fight to keep the car.
- If you are confronted by an assailant(s), remain calm, do not argue.
- Along with a description of the suspect(s), try to remember any unique physical characteristics (scars, limp, acne, teeth, manner of speech, etc.)
- Never pursue fleeing assailants - provide information and suspect(s) descriptions to responding officers.
- If video surveillance equipment is available, please save a copy of the incident for investigating detectives.
- If approached by a witness to the incident, request contact information.
- Contact 911 immediately and remain on scene, if possible.
What police say residents should do:
- Call 911 immediately if you witness the elements of the crime(s) described above.
- Be sure to pay attention to specific details like license plates, vehicle damage, suspect(s) descriptions, and direction of travel. Provide this information to responding officers.
- If you have video surveillance, provide a copy, or contact information to the police.
- If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers: http://crimestoppersmn.org or 1-800-222-8477.
- For further information go to Minneapolis Crime Maps and Dashboards.