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Second rideshare driver attacked in a week

Garfield Heights woman says she was 'pummeled'
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Posted at 4:27 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 18:17:20-05

GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio  — For the second time in a week, a Cleveland-area rideshare driver said she was attacked.

In the latest case, the Uber driver told 5 On Your Side Investigators she was about to drop off four men in their 20's on Oakview Boulevard in Garfield Heights Friday night when one of the men punched her in the back of the head.

The woman, who didn't want to appear on camera because she feared for her safety, said the men then pulled her out of her car and "pummeled" her before driving off with her car and phone.

That attack happened days after a woman who was driving for Lyft said she was attacked by two men who tried stealing her car in Cleveland.

Workplace security expert Tim Dimoff said the incidents illustrate the need for rideshare drivers to be aware of their surroundings, and to have a plan in place before something goes wrong.

"If you pre-prepare your mind that way, you'll be able to survive much better than if you have to start thinking under pressure," said Dimoff, President and CEO of SACS Security Services.

Dimoff encourages drivers to take pictures of riders and to record video and audio of what happens inside the car.

"It's a deterrent," said Dimoff. "If that person sees that you're doing it, and they had criminal intent, they might very well say 'I'm not going to do this one. I'm going to skip it."

He also said it's important drivers know how to use emergency buttons installed in rideshare apps.

If a rider demands the keys, Dimoff said resisting is the worst thing a driver can do.

"If they got you outside the car and they want your keys, throw the keys on the ground," said Dimoff. "It's sort of like a minor distraction. Throw the keys down, that gets everyone's attention looking at the ground. That's your opportunity to leave. You can run and you can...contact the police. Your car can be replaced, but you can't be."

In extreme cases, where a driver is attacked inside the car, Dimoff recommended hitting the gas and crashing into something nearby.

"You want to disable the vehicle," said Dimoff. "You want to draw attention to the accident which is you and your car. That is going to disrupt the plans of the criminal and that is going to ensure your safety."

In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said the company regularly sends reminders to drivers on how to stay safe and routinely works with police on investigations.

The driver who was attacked Friday in Garfield Heights said she does not plan to continue driving for the company.