An Uber driver with an alleged criminal past returned to a house after dropping off passengers at SFO, got scared off by an alarm, and moved on to another house nearby.
Today we have a story involving Uber, Airbnb, and Ring security, and you can probably guess which of those tech companies is accused of failing to properly screen for an alleged criminal background. Bay City News reports that an Uber driver attempted to rob a San Mateo house whose Airbnb tenants he’d just dropped at the airport an hour earlier.
The victims did some digital detective work and claim they found the Uber driver had a criminal past that Uber had failed to screen.
“He came back to that exact house and tried to burglarize it," San Mateo police officer Michael Haobsh tells ABC 7. Foiled by the sound of a security alarm, the accused Uber driver then successfully burglarized and ransacked another home a few blocks away, whose Ring security system did not exactly stop him, but captured an elaborate four-hour ransacking of the place on video.
“[He] torn apart the whole house, tossed everything,” ABC 7 quotes the victim of that burglary, identified only as ‘Scott’, as saying. “Every piece of furniture moved. He opened my safe.”
Scott’s girlfriend Chana tells the station, “There are heirlooms that belong to my grandmother, that go back all the way to the Holocaust. For him that was just something to pawn off. To me that was the memory of my grandmother."
The traumatized couple posted their footage to a Ring neighborhood watch platform, which apparently led to the conclusion that this was the same suspect who’d attempted to burglarize the Airbnb house earlier. The victims went full Nextdoor in researching the Uber driver suspect, identifying him as Jackie Gordon Wilson, and finding mentions of a criminal past on his social media accounts.
“He had openly posted that in 2017, he had been out of jail for six months for robbery,” Chana said, according to ABC 7. If that’s true, it’s yet another example of Uber or its vendors failing to perform even the most basic background check on one of their drivers.
The suspect was apprehended the next day in his Rancho Cordova home, as ABC 7 reports that police “used information from the Uber app to track down Wilson.”
That’s a pretty troubling statement if you’re an Uber driver! Sure, an alleged burglar has been apprehended, and we do truly hope the victims get all their stolen stuff back. But police have access to Uber drivers’ location data?
The various tech platforms involved in this caper did lead to the apprehension of a suspect. But it’s important to remember that digital vigilantism has identified the wrong suspect on numerous occasions, notably in the Boston Marathon bombing and the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rallies. The same could easily happen here. And while the Ring security team will probably sound off over how they helped nab a suspect, you’ll notice how its lower-tech “alarm bell” counterpart at the other San Mateo house was more successful at actually preventing a burglary.