Woman sexually assaulted by 'phony Uber driver' in Vancouver, police say
VANCOUVER -- Police are investigating an alleged sexual assault involving a "phony Uber driver" in Vancouver, and they believe there may be more victims who haven't come forward.
Authorities said a woman was attacked on Aug. 26 near Oak Street and King Edward Avenue, and that her assailant had posed as an Uber driver while behind the wheel of a white 2020 Land Rover.
Langley resident Hirdeypal Batth has since been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement. Police said the 24-year-old was convicted of another sexual assault "with similarities to the current investigation" back in 2017.
"We believe that Batth may have targeted other victims," Const. Tania Visintin said in a news release. "Investigators are expanding their focus to look at crimes that occurred outside of Vancouver and are urging any other victims to please come forward."
Batth did not actually work for Uber, but in response to the incident, the ride-sharing company urged customers to be vigilant.
Uber said it does not take customers through street hails, reminding people to only take trips with drivers that are requested through the app.
Customers should ensure they are getting in the right vehicle by checking the car’s make and model, the company said, and ensuring the driver looks like the picture provided in the app.
Uber also advises customers to ask the driver, “Who are you here to pick up?”
“Never get in a car with a driver who claims to be with Uber but doesn't match what is in your app,” Uber's Kayla Whaling said in an email.
Batth is being held in custody pending his next court appearance, police said.
The Vancouver Police Department asked anyone with information to contact investigators at 604-717-0601, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.