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Uber driver arrested for kidnapping drunk woman

A driver for Uber was arrested Monday in Los Angeles after police say he kidnapped a drunk female passenger and took her to a nearby motel room.

Police told ABC 7 that a 26-year-old woman reported waking up in a motel room with a shirtless man she didn’t recognize following a night of drinking. Police said the woman had visited multiple bars and had probably called the ride-sharing service Uber for a ride.

When officers went to the Panorama Motel to look for the driver, they found Frederick Dencer, 32, in the room the woman had come from. Surveillance video showed Dencer carrying the woman into the room.

The woman is believed to have last visited a West Hollywood nightclub before getting in the car with Dencer, who police think was still at the club after another fare and may have been asked by a nightclub worker to take the woman home.

In a statement to CBS Los Angeles, an Uber representative said the ride was not an official Uber fare:

“The facts are unknown at this stage and it’s certainly unclear that this is an Uber-related incident, and the driver in question was not logged in, connected to or operating on the platform at the time. We have reached out to authorities and will work with them to help uncover the facts.”

The driver was arrested for kidnap for the purpose of sexual assault and is being held on $1 million bail.

This isn’t the first safety issue to call attention to Uber, which has expressed interest in establishing a network in Las Vegas. Earlier this week, an Uber driver was charged with battery after allegedly hitting a customer during an argument. And another Uber driver is being sued by the family of a 6-year-old girl who they say was run down by the driver in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve.

Uber implemented a $1 “Safe Rides Fee” on April 17 to support safety efforts including a “background check process, regular motor vehicle checks, driver safety education, development of safety features in the app and insurance.”

Safety isn’t the only problem Uber has to address as it tries to break into the Las Vegas market, where prices and supply are regulated and the ability to enter the market is limited.

Uber practices supply-and-demand pricing, with rates going up at peak times of day. That’s a break from the Nevada Taxicab Authority’s current regulations, as the RJ’s Rick Velotta pointed out in May: In Las Vegas, a ride costs $3.30 plus $2.60 a mile and $30 an hour “wait time,” the time that vehicle is stopped in traffic or traveling under 12 mph.

Uber has said it’s exploring its options in the city, but hasn’t yet specified how it would work with current regulations.

Contact Stephanie Grimes at sgrimes@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @stephgrimes

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