SAN MATEO, Calif. (KTVU) - San Mateo police detectives are actively investigating a report of a sexual assault of a woman by an man posing as a ride-share driver.
On Tuesday about 7 p.m., the woman told officers that she was picked up by a man who claimed he was a ride-share driver near Grant and Concar, just north of Highway 92. A friend of the victim had ordered the victim an Uber, and that the victim apparently got into a car that was not the one she was expecting.
KTVU has learned that the victim texted her friend, saying the driver was "trying to rape her" and that she needed help.
Authorities say the man in the car took her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her.
She was able to escape and with the assistance of a passerby, who called police near the 1400 block of Fashion Island Boulevard.
The suspect fled the area in a gray four-door sedan with Uber and Lyft stickers on the back. She described him as a tall white man, in his late 30s, with a slender build. Police created a sketch of the man, which shows he has large ears and short hair, like a buzz cut.
In a similar situation earlier this summer, a man in San Francisco was also accused of pretending to be a ride-share driver and he is now awaiting trial after being charged with raping and assaulting at least four women he picked up, while he pretended to be a Lyft driver.
In a separate case, two men kidnapped a woman from outside a bar in San Francisco's Mission District and took her to Sonoma, where they attacked and sexually assaulted her. The victim thought she was getting into a ride-share she had ordered. Those two men were also arrested.
Anyone with information about the San Mateo incident or identity of the suspect is asked to contact Detective Nicole Von Glahn at (650) 522-7655 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous tips can be submitted at http://tinyurl.com/SMPDTipsor by calling the SMPD Secret Witness Line at (650) 522-7676.
Police also issued these safety tips when taking a ride-share:
• Double-check your ride share app to ensure the license plate, make, model and color of the car is the actual car assigned to you by the app.
• Take a picture of the license plate and vehicle.
• Do not get into a car or give your name to the driver until you ask “who are you here for?” IF the driver can’t identify your name, do not get in.
• Share your trip details with friends or family. According to Uber, you’re able to tap “Share status” in the mobile app and share your driver’s name, photo, license plate and location with a friend or family member. Lyft users can tap the “Send ETA” icon on the bottom bar, which will send a text message to family or friends with a link to your current route and location.
• Trust your instincts! If you are uncomfortable with the driver’s behavior or comments or you sense something is not right, don’t get in the car. If you are already in the car, ask to be dropped off and call 911.