by Evan Stambaugh
Uber and Lyft drivers in Minneapolis are facing a slew of robberies and carjackings, Crime Watch Minneapolis reported this week.
In an article published Thursday, Crime Watch Minneapolis recounted the various incidents against rideshare drivers heard on Minneapolis police scanners since Oct. 1. The crime watchdog noted that “many of those reports have included assaults on the drivers and the use of guns in the robberies.”
Since Oct. 14 there have been at least 10 incidents recorded on police dispatch, with Crime Watch Minneapolis adding that “these are just the ones we heard or know about.”
“There have been no public crime alerts issued by the City of Minneapolis or the Minneapolis Police Department that we are aware of,” the report says. After the report was released, MPD issued an “informational alert” about the uptick in carjackings.
Three carjackings against rideshare drivers alone occurred within a mere 50-minute timeframe on Oct. 17, from 10:40 to 11:30 p.m. Unsurprisingly, these incidents took place in north Minneapolis, an area that has been bearing the brunt of rampant crime for well over a year.
“The incident locations stretched from 51st and Irving Avenue North to Lowry and James Avenues North and to West Broadway Avenue and Penn Avenue North,” Crime Watch said.
Then on Tuesday, Oct. 19, Crime Watch reported another four incidents targeting Lyft drivers: three in north Minneapolis, one in south Minneapolis. Two of them were deemed “auto thefts,” one with a gun drawn, while another two drivers were robbed at gunpoint.
The report mentions that many of the carjackers were picked up by the rideshare drivers, presumably as run-of-the-mill passengers. Uber and Lyft passengers and drivers are generally not allowed to carry weapons on their person.
According to Ride Share Guy, Uber’s policy on self-defense weapons is more ambiguous than Lyft’s. Uber’s “Firearms Policy” simply states that drivers and passengers may not carry any firearms “to the extent permitted by applicable law,” and it reportedly allows the carrying of pepper spray or tasers.
Lyft’s weapons policy, on the other hand, is clearer and stricter: “Even in places where it is legal to carry a weapon, we ask that you do not carry a weapon on any Lyft property.”
For Lyft, “weapons” include firearms, handguns, stun guns, explosives, knives, sling shots, and tasers. The policy adds that the company “reserves sole judgment on what else may constitute a ‘weapon.’”
Lyft’s justification for this is to keep passengers as comfortable as possible.
“It’s hard to know what someone else is or isn’t comfortable with. The mere presence of a weapon might make another community member distressed and fear for his or her own personal safety,” the policy says.
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Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy. In 2016 he was a volunteer, intern, and field assistant for Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign.
Photo “Uber Ride” by JacksonDavid.