Livery driver advocate offers $5,000 reward after wave of Uber, Lyft robberies

NEW YORK — A New York City livery and taxi driver advocate is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone with information that can help cops make arrests in a string of recent attacks and carjackings among working drivers.

“We are outraged that, in seven days, we have had upwards of six armed robberies,” Fernando Mateo, founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, said Wednesday. “We are here offering $5,000 to anyone that could give us information regarding these crimes.

“Our drivers go out to work in the morning, and a lot of times they don’t know if they’re going to get back home,” he added.

The six assaults took place between April 4 and April 12, Mateo said, with five incidents in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn.

Police could not immediately confirm the details of two of the Bronx incidents.

The Brooklyn driver, who spoke to the Daily News on the condition that he be identified only by his first name, Juan, said he was brutally attacked in East New York on April 7 by four teenage boys after he stopped to pick up a passenger.

“These four kids approached the car to get in — like a regular ride,” he said. “I asked if they knew the name of the person [who had ordered the ride], because it was a female name — it could have been [one of] their moms.

“They didn’t know the name. Some of them said ‘this isn’t our car,'” Juan said.

The driver said he began looking around for his fare when one of the teens sucker-punched him through his open window.

“I looked to the right, and I got punched,” he said. “They punched me a few times, and somebody came with a gun and said ‘give me everything, give me the money.'”

Juan said he got out of the car to give them money from his wallet, but started to fight back as they got more aggressive.

“When I got out of the car, I looked and they had a phone,” he said. “They were filming this moment.”

One of the assailants hit Juan in the head with a scooter, splitting open his scalp. A bystander announced they had called the cops, and Juan’s attackers scattered.

Police said no arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing.

The same day, a livery car driver in the Bronx was carjacked at knifepoint in Soundview after picking up a man and a woman.

The couple got into the backseat of the driver’s Toyota RAV4, with the man seated behind the driver’s seat.

The female said to the male passenger “are you ready?” and he put a knife to the the driver’s throat and demanded cash, police said.

When the driver said he didn’t have any, the man ordered him out of the RAV4 and took the car. No arrests have been made.

Another driver was robbed in Soundview on April 12 by a couple who brandished a knife and gun and sped off in the driver’s 2023 Toyota Camry.

Police are still investigating at least one other incident in the Bronx, but NYPD sources told the Daily News they don’t think the robberies are related.

B’hairavi Desai, head of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which also represents Uber and Lyft drivers, said being a professional driver in the five boroughs remains dangerous despite the fact that many drivers no longer accept or carry cash.

“It’s a marked car,” she said of vehicles with Taxi and Limousine Commission license plates.

“People know this is a working person who might have cash on them, or at least a car in good condition,” she said.

TLC commissioner David Do denounced the attacks and called on anyone with information to help.

“Our city’s drivers are hardworking people who are simply doing their job of getting us where we need to go and serving our communities,” Do said in a statement. “Anyone with information about an attack or a crime against a driver should contact the NYPD immediately.”