The Markup confirmed 124 carjackings and attempted carjackings of ride-hail drivers across the country. Drivers say the companies are doing little to help By Dara Kerr
As Lyft driver Cynthia Norman steered a white Chevy through Cleveland’s streets on a cold night in January, the app pinged her to pick up a passenger named “NBA.” She pulled up to the curb in front of a two-story brick apartment complex where two men who looked to be in their 20s were waiting for her. One was wearing a gold hoodie, the other was in a black hoodie; both had on face masks.
Norman said she was out late driving because her husband was sick in the hospital and she figured they could use the extra money. After greeting the men, Norman said the one in the black hoodie insisted on sitting in the front seat, despite it being against Lyft’s pandemic rules. That was the first red flag of the night, she said. Next, the Lyft app showed their destination as a short, four-minute ride away—the second red flag. Norman said the third red flag was when the ride ended at a shuttered sports arena.
Norman is just one of at least 124 ride-hail and delivery drivers who’ve been carjacked in the U.S. over the last year and a half, according to an analysis by The Markup. Through interviews with drivers and family members, police reports, and local news articles, The Markup found Uber and Lyft drivers from Boston to Nashville to Sioux Falls, S.D., who’ve been victims of carjackings or attempted carjackings. Their cars ended up crashed, in chop-shops, or used in other crimes. Police departments nationwide have reported an overall surge in carjackings during the pandemic, and these incidents appear to be happening to ride-hail drivers at an especially high rate.