Berkeley police say Uber driver tried to kidnap, rape 2 passengers

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Berkeley police have arrested Uber driver Gabrele Amare for allegedly trying to kidnap and rape two passengers.

"The suspect admitted to picking up the victim. The suspect also admitted to attempting to pimp out the victim," said Berkeley Police Sgt. Veronica Rodriguez.

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"The women were able to escape. One, a woman in her 20s jumped out of the car at the intersection of Telegraph and Ashby avenues in Berkeley while it was moving.

"The victim did suffer minor injuries when she jumped from a moving vehicle. She then ran to a nearby gas station, where she asked for help," said Sgt. Rodriguez.



The other woman, who was picked up in Oakland, threatened to break his car window, so police say Amare then released her.

One woman, who uses Uber, says her heart hurts for these women.

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"Hearing stories like these really scares me, especially because I go out with my friends all the time and we order Ubers," said Berkeley resident Medhavi Goel.

Police say Amare is in jail.

Uber released a statement, calling the allegations troubling and saying Amare's access to the Uber app has been terminated. A spokesman also said every Uber driver must pass a criminal background check in accordance with California law.

Still, the incidents are not isolated and come as rideshare companies face increased scrutiny over passenger safety.



Jay Cradeur - a longtime Uber driver based in the Bay Area and host of "The Rideshare Dojo" podcast - said he believes Uber needs to beef up its background checks.

"It seems they could do a lot more to screen out the bad apples," Cradeur told ABC7 News.

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Cradeur said it took him 24 hours to become an Uber driver, versus several days when he applied to be a taxi driver.

"It definitely took longer and was a much more rigorous process," he explained.

In 2017, state regulators adopted new safety rules for Uber and Lyft, but decided against requiring the companies to fingerprint their drivers.

Cradeur said fingerprinting would be a good next step, but now offers this advice to passengers.

"Check the license. Make sure they know your name," he said. "And then once you're in the car, keep an eye on the path you should be going, because if that driver diverts off that path, then something is wrong, right?"

If that does happen, passengers can use the panic button on the Uber app. It will send the passenger's information and location directly to a 911 dispatcher.

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