Taxi drivers never know who’s getting into the back of their cab. It could be sports stars, actors, rock stars, politicians . . . the possibilities are endless as this Uber driver found out.
But even with the use of booking apps, drivers don’t really know who they are picking up – or what their passengers are doing. In the case of Uber, the app gives the drivers peace of mind that the fare will be paid for and that there is an electronic trail if anything does go wrong. It works in the same way to reassure passengers.
And it is this electronic trail that helped police in America catch a bank robbery suspect.
The story involves a Michigan man, who was arrested last month following a robbery at a bank in Southfield.
The Mirror reports that Jason Christmas was arrested on suspicion of robbing a bank – getting the Uber driver to wait for him outside the Huntington Bank branch before taking him back to his apartment.
The method used in the alleged hold-up even surprised police, with Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren telling The Mirror: “This is a very unusual way to commit an armed robbery in our city.”
When police arrived shortly afterwards to arrest Christmas, they at first thought he had been shot.
Body-camera footage shows officers asking him about the “red stuff” which was all over his body.
A concerned officer asks him: “Man, did you get shot or something, why do you have this red stuff all over you?”
But Chief Barren revealed that the “red stuff” was believed to be from the dye that was left in the cash wallet which the bank teller allegedly handed to the robbery suspect.
Police recovered what they believed to be the stolen money, which was also stained with the distinctive red dye which makes it worthless.
They also tracked down the unfortunate Uber driver, who was shocked to be stopped in relation to such a serious allegation.
Chief Barren confirmed that when the driver was pulled over, he had no idea was part of a robbery and had no idea what the passenger had been doing in the bank.
While taxi drivers are prepared to be flexible and often come to the rescue, the most serious incident they are involved in is a collision and a claim on their private hire insurance or public hire insurance.
This must have been a nerve-racking ordeal for the driver concerned, who has been cleared of any involvement in the alleged robbery.
As a warning to others who might be tempted to use taxi drivers to help them commit crime, the police chief said: “Any time you get a ride-share, your identity is shared with the driver who in turn, can share with law enforcement.”
Police are still investigating the motive behind the alleged robbery, but said it could have been linked to the festive season coming up.
Chief Barren said: “There is a lot of anxiousness to buy gifts for your loved ones. This is that time of year when individuals try to take advantage of our community and commit these types of crimes.”
Fox 2 news reports that the reason Christmas allegedly used an Uber was because his driving license had been suspended and he was worried about getting into trouble for driving without one.
Christmas has been charged with bank robbery and his bond was set at £420,000.
All information is correct at time of publication. Information provided within this article may have changed over time. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by John Patons Insurance Services or any of its employees.