Uber, the popular ride-sharing app that gives users the ability to flag down a private chauffeur with the click of a button, is back in the news this week after one of their drivers allegedly tried to break into a customer’s house.
According to ABC 7, after dropping his passengers off at the San Francisco International Airport, 38-year-old Jackie Gordon Wilson reportedly went back to the Airbnb rental home where his customers were staying and attempted to break in.
“He came back to that exact house and tried to burglarize it,” said Officer Michael Haobsh with San Mateo police, adding that a security alarm (which included surveillance) must have scared him off.
But it appears as though Wilson was more afraid of leaving empty-handed than he was of getting caught because, shortly after he was seen walking away from the Airbnb, another house a few blocks away was robbed.
Homeowners Scott and Chana, who wish to remain anonymous, told reporters the suspect spent four hours ransacking their house, walking in and out several times carrying bags filled with their valuables.
“There are heirlooms that belong to my grandmother, that go back all the way to the Holocaust,” said Chana. “For him, that was just something to pawn off. To me, that was the memory of my grandmother.”
Thankfully, video surveillance captured by the couple’s Ring doorbell helped narrow down a suspect. After sharing footage online, Scott said the owner of the Airbnb identified Wilson as the man who tried to burglarize his home earlier that day.
“[The Airbnb owner] had immediately contacted his tenants, who had just left within the hour,” said Scott. “[He asked them], ‘Do you know this guy?’ ‘Yeah, that’s our Uber driver.'”
Though Wilson’s arrest was confirmed by CNN—charged with first degree burglary, attempted first degree burglary and resisting arrest—Uber still has some splainin’ to do, particularly when it comes to performing background checks on potential drivers.
Chana and Scott told reporters they learned about Wilson’s criminal past on social media.
“He had openly posted that in 2017, he had been out of jail for six months for robbery,” said Chana. “I was shocked!”
The robbery follows a string of ‘fake driver’ reports aimed at Uber; one of which resulted in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson—a University of South Carolina college student who mistakenly got into a vehicle she thought was her Uber ride.
Another story, shared yesterday on NBC, involves three women who say men posing as Uber drivers raped them. As stated in a lawsuit filed Friday, authorities warned Uber (as early as 2016) that “fake drivers” in Los Angeles were luring inebriated women into their cars and sexually assaulting them, yet according to the three victims, Uber never issued a warning, which the suit says could have easily been avoided.
Bottom line: be careful using rideshares. Avoid giving out your home address by having your driver meet you in a well-lit, safe area nearby. When the driver pulls up, don’t tell them who you are. Instead, wait for them to say your name. Then, check the app to confirm the make/model and license plate of the car, along with the snapshot of the driver that Uber provides before stepping into the car. If you must travel alone, be sure to click the “Share Status” button on the home page once your ride begins. Lastly, never get in the front seat—unless you have no other choice.