UMPD to investigate suspicious incident involving Uber driver

By Carolyn Gearig, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 3, 2015

Friday morning at 1:30 a.m., an Uber driver in Ann Arbor allegedly “demanded money or a sex act” from his passenger, who is a University student, according to a University Police Department security bulletin posted Friday afternoon.

The bulletin states that a UMPD investigation has been launched into the “suspicious incident.”

According to UMPD, a student reported that an Uber driver “demanded money or sex act” for payment when she tried to exit the vehicle. The student told police that she joined another person in the Uber ride at 1:30 a.m. Friday. The student did not call the Uber.

The male suspect was driving a dark-colored, four-door sedan that could be a Toyota or Honda, according to University Police. The suspect has yet to be identified, but University Police described him as “an Indian male, mid-20s” with a “slender build.”

University Police cannot conclude that the incident is or is not a crime. There have been no other recent complaints to University police involving Uber or similar taxi services like Lyft according to University Police.

“Part of the police investigation will be to explore any options that might exist with Uber communications,” University Police spokesperson Diane Brown said. “They represent themselves as a technology company and part of the challenge with Uber is that it’s not a licensed taxi company that has government relations, etcetera, so that makes it very challenging.”

Taxi drivers with licensed companies must hold a chauffeur license through the Department of State.

Uber is a mobile application which allows users to call and pay for transportation services using a mobile device. The service debuted in Ann Arbor in April 2014, but its use within the city of Ann Arbor has been called into question by Ann Arbor City Councilmembers due to safety concerns.

When asked for comment Friday afternoon, a representative from Uber said the company is working to find more information about the incident.

In response to national concerns regarding the safety of Uber and similar ridesharing companies, Uber hired a chief security officer Thursday. The creation of this new position follows Uber’s December announcment of a review of the company’s safety protocols.