FBI Reports Dubious ‘Trend’ of Rideshare Driver Kidnappings

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A new low for FBI fearmongering? The FBI is warning people that rideshare drivers may be trying to abduct their kids. The agency reports that there is a “trend” of “criminal actors using rideshare vehicles to abduct minor victims.”

To normal people, a “trend” means something that happens with some frequency. And yet the FBI offers no data to suggest that abductions by Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare drivers are actually widespread. Instead, the agency offers three “illustrative examples”—only two of which actually involve alleged criminal activity by drivers. And only one of these potentially criminal cases took place in the United States.

One of the three “illustrative examples” involved a minor who merely used a rideshare service to go meet an unrelated predator. The driver in this scenario had nothing to do with the alleged crime.

Another of the examples given involves a driver in Mexico who allegedly drove off with a child in the backseat after the child’s father got out at a flower stand. (The child “found a way to call his mother and provided his location,” the FBI says.)

In only one of the three examples is a U.S. rideshare driver accused of trying to abduct someone. “In April 2022, a 16-year-old boy requested a rideshare trip from Portland, Oregon, to Rockport, Texas,” the FBI says. “During his ride, the rideshare driver offered him a drink and the boy later woke up inside of a home in Sinton, Texas, approximately 20 miles in the opposite direction of Rockport. The boy walked to a nearby home and called for help. Law enforcement later arrested the rideshare driver.”

I’m mighty suspicious of a “trend” for which a federal agency can produce no data and only one relevant example. (And the FBI doesn’t even have the details right on that one—the boy was coming from Portland, Texas, not Portland, Oregon.) One or a few criminal drivers does not constitute a “trend.”

The Biden administration and Democratic politicians more broadly have been critical of rideshare services and backed proposals to make drivers be classified as employees rather than independent contractors. Could this bogus FBI warning be some sort of anti-rideshare messaging, designed to support the idea that drivers need tighter regulation?

The FBI says it’s a “public service announcement,” stating that “although this is a rare occurrence, the FBI is providing notification due to the high impact of such events.”

But it sure seems like standard law enforcement fearmongering, designed to keep people scared in order to justify big budgets for fighting crime.

Read the full article on Reason.