Fake ride-hail robbers return to city’s nightlife districts, cops say

It’s been a while since Chicago police have warned people about robbery offenders who lure victims by posing as ride-hail drivers in the city’s nightlife areas.

But the criminals are back at it, according to a community alert issued by Area Central detectives late last night.

At least four victims have been robbed by bogus Uber and Lyft drivers recently in the River North and Old Town entertainment areas during overnight hours, police said in the alert.

Detectives typically issue alerts when they believe an individual or group is responsible for a series of crimes.

Police said a group of up to three offenders is picking up people in a car that victims believe is an Uber or Lyft. Once inside the car, the offenders rob the victims by force or take their property surreptitiously, according to the alert.

The offenders then use the victim’s credit cards to make purchases or to transfer funds out of the victim’s bank account.

Police said a pattern involving four recent incidents has been identified. Victims were targeted near State and Division early on Dec. 22; near State and Elm and on the 1500 block of North Wells early on Dec. 28; and on the 400 block of West Ontario early on Jan. 3.

The incidents have involved groups of between one and three black males in their early- to mid-20’s who stand 5’11” to 6’2” tall and a group of three black females, detectives said.

All of the incidents have originated in the Near North police district. Officers in the district on Wednesday morning Tweeted a list of tips to help people stay safe:

  • Confirm the driver, color, make and model of the vehicle with your ride-hail app before getting into the car
  • Let someone know where you are going. Use the “share my ETA” feature in the ride-hail app
  • Never pay with cash. Tip via the app
  • Never show or hand over your credit card to the driver
  • Trust your intuition. Don’t get into the vehicle if something doesn’t feel right
  • Drink and socialize responsibly

Anyone with information about the ride-hail crimes can contact Area Central detectives at 312-747-8380 regarding pattern P20-1-011.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com