Mpls. police warn about rideshare groping incidents


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KARE) - Minneapolis police are asking people using Uber and Lyft to use caution after a recent series of incidents involving drivers touching passengers inappropriately.

In the last two weeks, four different Uber and Lyft passengers called police saying they'd been sexually groped by their rideshare driver, according to Minneapolis police Sgt. Catherine Michal.

Three of the four people who were groped were sitting in the front seat at the time of the assault, said Michal.

Two of the gropings happened in Uptown, one was Downtown near Target Field, and the fourth incident was in southeast Minneapolis near the University of Minnesota, said Michal.

"The person that is getting the ride has either been intoxicated or has had alcohol in their system or has been distracted due to other things that are going on in their personal life," said Michal of the four recent incidents.

The victims include three women and a man, said Michal. Now police are trying to determine whether the cases involve the same suspect.

"The descriptions that have been given have been a black male, mid 20s, early 30s, and/or a Somali male," said Michal.

Police say if caught, the suspect will face criminal sexual conduct charges.

Police say they hope Uber and Lyft passengers will use a few safety precautions to prevent a similar incident.

"We appreciate that people aren't drinking and driving and that they're taking a ride, but if you're by yourself, we definitely recommend that you sit in the back seat, and if you're with other people, always stick together," said Michal.

Both Uber and Lyft put their drivers through a background check that includes a motor vehicle record review as well as a criminal background check. Drivers for both Uber and Lyft must have a criminal record that is free of felony, violent crime, or sexual offense within the last seven years.