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Crime

Police in Baltimore City and Baltimore County investigate robberies using ride-hailing apps

Baltimore Police and Baltimore County Police detectives say they are investigating a string of robberies in which carjackers impersonated ride-hailing drivers and then robbed passengers.

“We do know it is organized. It’s usually about five to six suspects,” Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Richard Worley said Wednesday morning. “They rob a rideshare driver and then they take their app and start answering calls.”

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The Baltimore Police Department said in a news release that suspects in multiple robberies used the apps to carjack drivers and then pick up their customers, forcing victims to hand over money from ATMs or Cash App, a mobile payment service.

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Police have arrested at least nine people, all of whom are juveniles, Worley said. Among five cases that have been closed, three were in the city and two in Baltimore County, he said.

Mayor Brandon Scott emphasized Wednesday morning that part of the problem with these ridesharing robberies are the repeat offenders.

“These individuals that (police) are arresting; they’re not unfamiliar to BPD,” he said. “It’s the same group of people that we’ve previously made arrests for.”

He stressed that there needs to be a conversation as to why people with multiple carjacking and other robbery arrests, for example, are able to get back out on the streets so quickly.

“Because I’m sick and tired of talking about the same individuals over and over,” Scott said.

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Investigators are working with county and federal law enforcement to put an end to these rideshare carjackings, Worley said. Police are also communicating with ride-hailing companies to reverse payments. Investigations into the robberies are ongoing, police said.

People should continue using the ridesharing services but exercise safety, Worley said.

“We can’t allow the criminals to cause us to adjust our behavior,” he said. “You just have to be safe when you do it.”

Baltimore Police shared a flyer telling users of ride-hailing apps to check the car and driver’s information before getting into a vehicle, including details like the make and model, color and license plate. If there are too many people in the car or something else doesn’t seem right, customers should not get into the vehicle, police advised. Drivers should use caution when picking up fares for three or more people after dark, police warned.

County police are investigating a robbery and kidnapping reported early Nov. 28, police spokesperson Trae Corbin said in a Nov. 29 statement. Pikesville officers responded at about 2:15 a.m. to the 3900 block of Blanche Road, where a victim said that multiple people in the car that the victim believed to be their Uber ride had taken the victim to various locations to retrieve money from ATMs.

A spokesperson for Uber called the reported attacks “horrifying” and said the company was working with law enforcement on their investigation.

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“We encourage users 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,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

County authorities said detectives are investigating the incident, which is the only one reportedly linked to ride-hailing apps in Baltimore County.


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