“Your burglar is on their way.”
The day of your much-anticipated vacation has finally arrived. Your bags are packed. Your mobile boarding pass has been downloaded. There’s only one thing left to do: get yourself to the airport. So you reach for your phone and pull up your rideshare app of choice and request a ride to the airport. Your driver pulls up in front of your home and helps you put your rolling bag in the trunk. And as you hit the road they start up some casual conversation. “Where are you headed?” “How long is the trip?” “Business or leisure?”
To you, it’s idle chit-chat. To someone with nefarious intentions, it’s the keys to the kingdom. Your kingdom, to be exact.
To you, it’s idle chit-chat. To someone with nefarious intentions, it’s the keys to the kingdom.
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This is the scenario that took place in a San Mateo, California neighborhood on April 4. An Uber driver, after dropping off his passengers at the airport, attempted to burglarize their home but was derailed by an activated security alarm. The driver then moved on to ransacking a neighboring home. Luckily, the owners of the second home had a security camera and once the video was shared via Ring (a community watch platform), other users recognized him as an Uber driver that had been lurking in the neighborhood. The next day the San Mateo Police Department identified and arrested the Uber driver for first degree burglary, and attempted first degree burglary, and obstructing/resisting/delaying peace officer in the performance of their duty
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Haobsh, a San Mateo police spokesman, said that this was the first rideshare burglary case in the city that he was aware of.
Of course, most drivers are just trying to do their jobs. But knowing the exact time frame of when a home is going to be empty makes it ideal for burglarizing. So on the off-chance you’re being driven to the airport on an ill-intentioned fact-finding mission, make sure you and your home are left alone and you can spend your vacation relaxing and not fixating on the flimsy lock on your back gate you’ve been meaning to fix.
How to Protect Yourself
Have a security system and/or a surveillance camera. In the San Mateo case, the burglar was successfully scared off by the alarm and the footage from the camera lead to the burglar being found after he ransacked the house. Often the simplest solutions are the best!
Get picked up from a third location. Instead of allowing the driver to make a note of your exact address, arrange to be picked up somewhere else. A nearby coffee shop or the closest intersection works fine.
Straight up lie. Make up a relative that’ll be house-sitting while you’re gone. Casually drop a reference to your new (read: non-existent) home security system. Say that you’re actually on your return flight and that you were staying at an Airbnb. Anything that makes your home look like a difficult target will do.
Don’t post on social. Your rideshare driver might not know your Insta handle but it’s a good rule of thumb to keep any references to you being out of town on the down low.