(WTNH) — The Federal Bureau of Investigations has issued a warning about people using rideshare services to abduct minors.
The FBI made a public service announcement this week, saying “criminal actors” are using rideshare vehicles because of the “lower likelihood of detection and ease of facilitation.”
The FBI said such occurrences are rare, but issued the warning to raise awareness due to the “high impact” of the crimes.
The FBI added that during the pandemic, more people have used rideshare services for such crimes because they offered more privacy than public transportation, especially with masking and social distancing requirements in place.
“Since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement received several reports of rideshare services being used to facilitate child abduction,” the FBI said.
Rideshare services are used because they are more direct, easy to book and have security protocols that are not as strict as other forms of transportation, according to the FBI.
In what it called a “trend,” the FBI cited an April incident in which a 16-year-old boy requested a rideshare trip from Oregon to Texas. After drinking something the driver had offered him, the teen later woke up in a home 20 miles away from his destination. The driver was subsequently arrested.
In a February case, a father asked a rideshare driver to stop at a flower stand in Mexico City, and when he got out, the driver drove away with his 7-year-old son. The boy managed to call his mother and tell her where he was, and the driver was later arrested.
“While other modes of transportation were used during the pandemic, the privacy of rideshare services allowed criminal actors to obfuscate potential witness identification and afforded them direct transportation,” the FBI stated.
The FBI asks that any suspicious behavior possibly involving child abduction be reported to local law enforcement immediately.