Arlington Heights Police: Uber driver went home with passenger, burglarized his apartment


Elizabeth Owens-Schiele Pioneer Press

Chicago Tribune January 27 2017

 Arlington Heights Police said an Uber driver went home with her passenger and, with the help of a friend, burglarized the man's apartment while he slept.

Ethel D. Townsend, 25, and Kevin C. Pitts, 25, both of the 2200 block of Windsor Lane, Country Club Hills, were arrested Monday and charged with residential burglary, a felony, in connection with a Sept. 4 burglary in Arlington Heights, according to Arlington Heights police officials.

Arlington Heights Police Sgt. Joe Pinnello said a 27-year-old Arlington Heights man contacted Uber about 2 a.m. on Sept. 4 after leaving a wedding in Rosemont, requesting a ride to his apartment in the 300 block of North Salem Avenue.

"He was driven home by the female Uber driver and upon arriving home, the female Uber driver accompanied him up to his apartment. They become friends during the Uber ride," Pinnello said. He said the man went to sleep and when he awoke the next morning, he found the Uber driver gone and several things missing from his apartment, including an iPad mini and a PlayStation video gaming system.

Pinnello said the man contacted the driver through the Uber app and she denied taking anything and hung up on him. He reported the incident to Arlington Heights police later that afternoon, Pinnello said.

He said police worked with Uber to identify the driver. Pinnello said a friend later identified as Pitts was seen on security video leaving the apartment carrying items.

"Her acquaintance was summoned during the evening and arrived at the apartment and assisted in burglarizing this young man's apartment," Pinnello said.

The two were scheduled to appear in the Markham Courthouse in connection with an unrelated domestic battery case and when they arrived for court Monday, Arlington Heights police arrested them, Pinnello said. They were later charged and released with electronic monitoring devices. Their next court date is Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. in room 108 in the Rolling Meadows courthouse.

Neither Townsend nor Pitts could be reached for contact.

Uber officials said Townsend has been permanently banned from Uber.

"This alleged incident occurred off the app and the rider invited the driver into his home," said Kayla Whaling, an Uber spokeswoman based in San Francisco. "We worked closely with the Arlington Heights Police Department for their investigation and this driver was removed from the app in early September. She was driving on the app for a short period of time and I'm not aware of any other feedback of this nature."

Whaling declined to say how long the driver worked for Uber and said Uber uses a third party, Checkr, to manage background checks of its drivers.

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele is a freelance reporter.