Report: Two men robbed by alleged Uber driver

(WISH Photo/Jeff Wagner)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Two friends got separated from a group on one of the biggest party nights of the year. Soon after they said they were robbed in what they thought was an Uber car.

The Uber application connects those who need a ride to peers registered to be drivers through the company.

At 4:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving day as they capped off the busiest bar night of year, two 23-year-old men say told police they were with a big group of friends ready to go home.  At first, they did the responsible thing.  They say they called an Uber car to pick them up.  But, when it arrived outside Revel and Tiki Bobs downtown, it couldn’t fit the entire group. That’s when the two young men said they saw what looked like an illuminated Uber sticker in a vehicle behind the one that had been called.

They told police that’s when they asked that driver for a ride. Something Hoosiers who spoke to 24 Hour News 8 say probably isn’t the best idea.

“Well, you just have to use some common judgment actually and just be aware,” said Frida Price.

“We’ll use the legitimate cab companies from now on!” said Tiffany.

The two men told police that the assumed Uber driver told them he couldn’t take debit or credit cards. But, that’s the only type of currency legitimate Uber drivers can accept.

Alex Merkel has taken roughly 5,000 people to destinations during some 2,500 rides since February. It’s now his full time job.

“Absolutely not. Uber is cashless and it has always been that way. And even in tips too. It’s kind of included in the price,” said Alex Merkel.

The victims say the driver drove off with them, demanded their cash, reached for what the victims feared would be a weapon and told them to get out at a Speedway gas station on Kentucky Avenue.  That was not their intended destination.

“You really have to be on top of who you are ordering from.  Maybe get some information about the driver,” one man said as he walked downtown.

Which, Merkel says, is the benefit of hitching a ride from Uber.  For him, to become a driver he applied, registered his car, his insurance, his personal information and went through two background checks.  He says even then if you still have questions, he and other Uber drivers alike should be happy to answer any of them.

First and foremost, make sure you or someone you know is who hired the Uber.  That way, it’s easy to confirm when your ride has arrived.  The app can track each driver’s progress and upon arrival customers should have a vehicle description, driver ratings and picture of the driver who should be behind the wheel.

The important thing to remember is, Uber drivers should never be hailed or flagged down. It’s all built in to one, easy app. That’s the only way it should ever be used.

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