In response to a July 27 incident in which a resident told Bexley police she was assaulted by a driver claiming to be with the Lyft ride-share service, the city of Bexley is urging caution when using such services.
Lyft enables passengers to use a mobile phone application to request a ride from "community drivers" who register with the service. Lyft and another service, Uber, market their services as costing less than licensed taxicabs and offering more convenience than buses and other public transportation.
The alleged July 27 incident "is a reminder to exercise extreme caution when using unregulated services such as Uber or Lyft," Mayor Ben Kessler said.
According to police reports, a female victim reported that a male driver claiming to be with Lyft picked her up in the Arena District in downtown Columbus at approximately 2:20 a.m. July 27 and gave her a ride to East Mound Street between College and Sheridan avenues, arriving around 2:40 a.m.
When the victim arrived at the destination, the driver allegedly told the victim "You owe me," according to reports. The victim asked how much the fare was and then the driver began assaulting her, reports stated. The woman told police the suspect kissed her, grabbed her breast and stuck his hand up her shorts, reports said.
The victim fought back, eventually getting out of the car. The suspect grabbed the back of her shirt, causing it to rip, and he also tried to take her purse, but was unsuccessful, the police reports states.
The suspect fled by driving eastbound on East Mound Street, then southbound on College Avenue, according to the report.
The suspect driver is described as a Middle Eastern male in his early 20s, 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall, approximately 225 pounds, wearing a red T-shirt and dark shorts. The car is described as a late-model navy or black Nissan with a built-in navigation system.
Kessler said the city of Bexley recommends that residents use licensed taxi or bus services for transportation and does not recommend using unlicensed ride-share services.
"If a resident insists on using such a service, we recommend residents confirm the identity of the driver and cross-check that identity against Lyft and Uber's published information pertaining to the driver," Kessler said. "We are aware of the rising popularity of these services and will be discussing their implications at (city) council in the near future."
Anyone with information about the July 27 incident should contact police at 614-559-4444.