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'A Lot Of Drivers Are Scared': Minneapolis Crime Alert Warns Uber, Lyft Drivers Of Armed Car Robbery Scheme

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A crime alert has been pushed out for Minneapolis after multiple rideshare drivers have been assaulted and robbed at gunpoint.
The city says everyone should be concerned. Police say since mid-August, more than 40 Uber and Lyft drives have been robbed or carjacked with 12 in just the last seven days.

Police say many of these instances have happened in north Minneapolis. While officers have arrested some suspects, the trend continues.

Lyft driver Tanika Tatum explained a scary situation she encountered Thursday night while dropping off a passenger in Minneapolis. Tatum said her car was pinned in by several vehicles, when a man abruptly approached her.

"A young Black man jumped out, opened my door, put a gun in my face and told me 'get out of the car,'" Tatum said.

Tatum did not get out and instead drove through the cars. She and the passenger eventually got to a safe place.

"How do you protect yourself in that situation?" Tatum asked. "I hit the button on my Lyft app to say 'hey send us help.' It was slow getting help in that area. We sat and waited 20-30 minutes for police to come."

In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said:

"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."

Minneapolis police say there have been multiple incidents where rideshare drivers are asked to wait a few minutes. A group of armed people may come and block the drivers vehicle then try to rob the driver. Some drivers have been assaulted and pistol whipped.

Fulltime Uber driver Cher Vang said it's situations like this that keep him away from driving at night.

"Such a lack of drivers. A lot of drivers are scared. They don't know what they're going to go through each night," Vang said.

Rideshare users are surprised a crime alert hasn't come out sooner, especially with the uptick in crimes.

"Seems like there's a lot of uncertainty now with everything going on, and I think it's good to have warnings out there," Dan Sloan said.

MPD Citywide Crime Alert

What you can do

For Ride-Share Operators

Stay aware of your surroundings, even when in a locked vehicle.
Avoid using your phone for more than a couple of seconds.
Be extra cautious if asked to wait for the customer(s).
If you are not in a populated area with visible pedestrian and vehicle traffic, leave immediately if you see one or more vehicles or individuals approaching nearby.
If you become the victim of this type of crime:

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.

For Residents

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 online or 1-800-222-8477.
For further information click here.

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