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A few minutes ago, right near Uber’s old headquarters at 3rd and Mission, I watched as an unmarked car, filled with undercover cops, pulled over an Uber limo, apparently for picking up a passenger off the street.
The sting looked pretty well arranged, with at least one other vehicle pulling up shortly after the bust (and just after I took the photo, above), apparently filled with SFMTA agents.
The cops who did the original stop weren’t messing around: All were armed and the two who approached the car had their hands on their weapons throughout. The driver’s keys were taken away and placed on the roof of the car. My first though was that I was about to be caught in the crossfire of a drug bust. But no, their target was the Uber driver. I head one cop say to him: “You know you can’t pick up passengers that aren’t pre-arranged, right?”
I wasn’t able to tell if the passenger was a cop or SFMTA agent too, although she didn’t look too surprised at being pulled over. She also appeared to be taking notes at the scene, for what that’s worth.
This isn’t the first time an Uber driver has been busted in dramatic style. Last month, an Uber driver in DC took taxi inspectors (and one startled passenger) on a high speed chase through the city. Maybe that explains why the SF cops weren’t taking any chances this time.
I’ve reached out to Uber and SFMTA to ask if this stop was part of a wider operation and will update this post if I hear back.
Paul Carr is editorial director of Pando. Previously he was founder and editor in chief of NSFWCORP.