As Chicago carjackings surge, rideshare drivers demand photo requirement as a deterrent

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CHICAGO (WLS) — Rideshare drivers say they’re working in fear as carjackings across Chicago surge. Some gathered Tuesday night to hold a vigil for other drivers who have become victims.

Huddled on a West Side sidewalk, city rideshare drivers clutched candles in honor of their colleagues who’ve taken a bullet on the job. Mustafa Alawsi was nearly one of them.

“They ordered a ride and got in my car and they pulled a gun on me and took my car,” the former rideshare driver said. “I gave it to them because he had his gun to my head. It’s just a car, you can replace a car.”

SEE ALSO | New video shows rideshare driver carjacked in West Town

That was the last time he ever drove for Uber or Lyft in November. Carjackings have skyrocketed exponentially since then.

“He’s going to be paralyzed for the rest of his life from the waist down,” Uber driver Leonard Sanchez said in reference to an incident that took place Feb. 27.

On January 20, surveillance video captured a group of carjackers threatening a rideshare driver at gunpoint and speeding off in the middle of the night. Another was left shot in the chest in the backseat of his car in broad daylight last week.

SEE ALSO | Lyft driver shot in chest during attempted carjacking in West Garfield Park

“It’s like a flashback every single time I start thinking about what happened,” Alawsi said.

Chicago police records show 366 carjackings so far this year, as of March 7. That’s 130% more than the same period in 2020, when police say they responded to 159 carjackings. Now these drivers are demanding changes that would require passengers to show a picture before ordering a ride.

“If there is a group of carjackers, ‘hey guys, let’s go carjack somebody, who is going to take the picture so we can order it?'” Sanchez said. “I’m guessing the carjackers are going to be deterred.”

In response, Lyft issued a statement that said: “We appreciate IDG’s proposals to enhance driver safety and we look forward to working together on these issues.”

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