Police investigating string of carjackings involving ride share, delivery drivers in Portsmouth

Posted at 4:55 PM, Jan 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-31 20:13:07-05

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Portsmouth Police are investigatinga string of carjackings in the city Sunday.

The incidents happened near Peach Street, the intersection of High and Godwin Streets and Naval Avenue.

Police say all three victims were ride service and delivery drivers.

These were three separate incidents, but police say two appear to be related.

Around 12:06 a.m. Sunday, officers were flagged down by man who stated he had been carjacked. He told them four people were in his vehicle when one of them brandished a firearm and stole the victim’s vehicle near the intersection of High Street and Godwin Street.

No injuries were reported, and this vehicle has been recovered.

A few hours later around 4:55 a.m., officers were flagged down by a second man who said he had just been carjacked. He said he was picking up two males from the 900 block of Naval Avenue when they brandished a firearm, robbed him and stole his vehicle.

The stolen vehicle is a burgundy 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV with Lyft stickers on the back window. No injuries were reported, and this vehicle has been recovered.

Around 1:15 p.m., officers responded to a report of a robbery to a person near the 2500 block of Peach Street. A woman told them two males approached her with a firearm and stole her vehicle while she was making a food delivery.

No injuries were reported.

The stolen vehicle is a 2018 black four-door Nissan Versa.

One suspect was last seen wearing a black bubble coat, black pants, white shoes, a pink mask and gloves. The second suspect is described as a male who was last seen wearing a black bubble coat, black pants, black shoes and a black mask.

Authorities are urging people who work for these services to be aware of their surroundings while on the job.

News 3 reached out to Lyft for comment on these incidents, and the company provided us with the following statement on Monday:

"Safety is fundamental to Lyft and we are working closely with law enforcement to help keep drivers safe. We continuously invest in new products and policies to help protect drivers, and are exploring ways to expand the use of our safety features to help prevent these incidents from happening and support drivers if they do."

The company also shared with us their efforts to help keep drivers safe, which include:

  • Carjacking-specific prevention efforts: Lyft says it's working to proactively detect and take action against accounts we believe may exhibit high-risk rider behavior, including those using anonymous payment methods.
  • Emergency Help (Supported by ADT): Without having to speak a word, drivers can immediately and discreetly trigger emergency assistance from ADT, who can quickly dispatch and pass along ride details and live location to authorities. Lyft led development of this feature and technology with ADT and have had it available in the Lyft app for over a year.
  • Smart Trip Check-in: If the company notice certain irregularities with rides - if the ride has stopped for an abnormal amount of time, for example - they reach out to drivers directly to ask if they need help and connect them with emergency assistance.
  • 24/7 Safety support and law enforcement response: Lyft's Safety and Law Enforcement Response teams are available 24/7 so that drivers can always reach a live person and so they can take action – including working with law enforcement when appropriate – to help keep the Lyft community safe.

As far as how Lyft responds, the following steps are common practice for responding to an incident:

  • Take Immediate Action: As a first step, Specialists may freeze the account of the alleged offender while the company investigates internally.
  • Gather Information: Specialists reach out to the reporting party to gather information and provide support as needed. Specialists also contact those who might have relevant information, as identified by the reporting party.
  • Evaluate: Lyft investigates safety reports through correspondence with drivers and riders, third-party statements, route data, timing details and police reports. Based on this evaluation, Lyft determines how it can best support the reporting party and the appropriate course of action for handling the incident.
  • Provide Resources: Where appropriate, Specialists also provide additional resources to those who report safety incidents to Lyft, including making those individuals aware of how to reach organizations that provide a variety of services. These services include counseling, emotional support and crisis intervention, as well as information on how to report incidents to law enforcement.  

If you know anything about these incidents, you're asked to call the Portsmouth Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division at (757) 393–8536 or to submit an anonymous tip through the Portsmouth Crime Line at 1–888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887).

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