The FBI is warning the public about criminals who may use rideshare vehicles to abduct children in order to avoid detection.
Authorities stated that, while it is a rare occurrence, they are issuing an alert due to the high impact and multiple reports. During the COVID-19 pandemic, criminals believed rideshare services provided them with more privacy, in addition to mask and social distancing requirements.
During the pandemic, criminals used a variety of modes of transportation to either transport or abduct their victims, according to investigators. They were not apprehended, however, while using rideshare vehicles. They were arrested instead while using other modes of transportation.
The FBI also discovered several instances of the crime.
- A 16-year-old boy requested a rideshare trip from Portland, Oregon, to Rockport, Texas, in April 2022. During his ride, the rideshare driver offered him a drink, and the boy later awoke inside a home in Sinton, Texas, about 20 miles away from Rockport. The boy went to a nearby house and requested assistance. The rideshare driver was later arrested by law enforcement.
- An adult male in Colorado met a minor victim on social media in February 2021 and groomed her to send child sexual exploitation material (CSAM). The male flew to California and convinced the minor to leave her home at 2:00 a.m. to board a ride-sharing vehicle The rideshare vehicle took them to the airport, where they boarded a plane to Washington, DC. To avoid detection, the adult male forced the victim to pretend to be mute and wear a wig. The victim was found, and her abductor was apprehended by police at the airport during their layover. The adult male was charged with child abduction, soliciting CSAM from a minor, and having sex with the minor.
- In February 2022, a father riding in a rideshare vehicle with his 7-year-old son in Mexico City requested that the driver stop at a flower stand. When the father got out of the car to make a purchase, the rideshare driver took the boy with him. The boy was able to contact his mother and provide his location. The parents safely recovered the boy, pursued, and eventually apprehended the rideshare driver, who was arrested.
The FBI urges anyone who witnesses suspicious behavior involving a child abduction to immediately contact law enforcement. You can also file a complaint online.
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