Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A man is being accused of kidnapping a Columbia woman who thought he was an ride-sharing driver who could take her home.
Officers arrested Andre Montel Bouknight, 44, charging him with kidnapping.
Police say back on April 20, the 20-year-old victim thought Bouknight was working for Uber. Investigators say he told the woman that he worked for Uber, and could taker her home.
According to police, after the victim willingly got inside Bouknight’s Dodge Charger, she repeatedly told him to take her to a specific location. But officers say instead, he drove her to various places in the city, and refused to let her out of the car.
The woman then used her phone to call friends for help. Those friends called 911 and helped CPD officers find Bouknight's car at the 900 block of Assembly Street.
The victim was found unharmed.
Officers charged Bouknight with Possession of Cocaine, Open Container, and Driving under Suspension after a traffic stop.
Upon further investigation, they determined that he also kept the woman from getting out of the car, and filed the kidnapping charges later.
Bouknight was housed at the Richland County jail and has since been released on a $25,000 bond.
Columbia police issued the following tips to anyone taking a ride-sharing service or taxi.
- Depending on the service, a licensed car/taxi service will properly display a vehicle/driver inspection in the front window after passing a required inspection.
- Many services will also properly display a photo ID, along with a license and company credentials.
- Wait inside an establishment for your ride to arrive
- Uber in particular has an app that will notify you when your driver has arrived to pick you up
- Verify your ride through the app
- If riding alone, sit in the backseat. This allows for more mobility and access to exit a vehicle in the event of an emergency
- While en route in an Uber, utilize the ‘share status’ within the app. This will share your driver’s name, photo, license plate and location with a loved one.
- Use your best judgement when utilizing ride-sharing services
- Always call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency