Updated: October 24, 2021 05:57 PM
Created: October 24, 2021 05:44 PM
Some Minneapolis rideshare drivers are adding extra safety precautions after being targeted in recent robberies and carjackings.
The Minneapolis Police Department sent out a warning about the incidents Friday saying the department has received multiple reports of rideshare drivers being assaulted and robbed by people using burner phones to reserve a ride.
It’s causing some riders to be more careful than normal.
Picking up and dropping off — it's the way Miftha Awni, rideshare driver, makes a living.
“I can work anytime I want. It is very flexible. That's why I started this job,” Awni said.
But he said every time he picks up a rider, it comes with a risk.
“I don't know what will happen, so it's very scary,” he said.
Since mid-August, Minneapolis police said at least 40 rideshare drivers have been targeted in aggravated robberies or carjackings.
“I used to drive until 3 a.m. at night, but I stopped driving because I don't want to take a risk,” Awni said.
When he drives during the day, he has a camera on his dashboard to have an extra set of eyes on his truck.
He said you can never be too careful picking up riders.
"I don't put my car in park because if something happens at least I can do something,” Awni said.
MPD said in recent cases, armed people pull up to the rideshare driver in a stolen vehicle blocking them from leaving and that's when the robbery or carjacking happens.
Some rideshare drivers told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that quitting rideshare driving is not an option because it's the only way to make ends meet.
As far as drivers defending themselves, Uber's weapons policy states that drivers may not carry any firearms, but pepper spray and tasers are allowed.
The policy for Lyft is a bit different: Drivers are asked not to carry a weapon of any kind while picking up riders, even if it's legal in that state.
Police said rideshare drivers should be extra cautious while picking up riders and if you fall victim, remain calm and avoid fighting off suspects and call 911. If possible, they urge drivers to share video surveillance with the police.
If you witness a crime, you are encouraged to contact CrimeStoppers at 800-222-8477.
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