An Uber driver was robbed by a man who got into his car, pulled out a needle and threatened to inject him with HIV if he didn’t comply with demands, Boca Raton police say.
The robber forced the driver to drive around Boca Raton, then ran away after stealing the driver’s phone and wallet.
Boca Raton police soon found and arrested Matthew Steven Francis, 30, who is listed as at-large with no local address. Officers said they found Francis in possession of a syringe and the Uber driver’s stolen belongings.
According to a police affidavit, the events began about 11 p.m. Saturday when Sebastian Lora, of Boynton Beach, was working for the Uber, a ride-hailing service that lets people use a smartphone app to schedule and pay for a car ride.
Lora, in his black Toyota, made a pit stop outside a 7-Eleven in Boca Raton. He was waiting for a female passenger he had driven there to return from buying something inside the store, at 831 E. Palmetto Park Road.
That’s when the robber opened Lora’s unlocked passenger door, got into the passenger seat, pulled out a syringe and told Lora he’d be injected with HIV if he didn’t start driving, police said.
The driver, fearing an injection, began driving west on East Palmetto Park Road, police said. A few blocks away from the store, in the 500 block of Palmetto, the robber told him to make a U-turn and head back east.
Once back in the 800 block of Palmetto, the assailant told the driver to pull over.
Still holding the syringe, the robber told Lora to hand over his phone and wallet. The robber then ran away from the car, taking Lora’s phone and wallet with him.
The robber, described as 6 feet tall and about 200 pounds, was wearing a Boston hat, a green shirt and jeans. Police said they found Francis, who matched the description, in a neighborhood a few blocks north of the 7-Eleven, walking near the 800 block of Northeast Fourth Street.
Francis was carrying a syringe in his left front pocket, and Lora’s wallet in his right pocket, police said.
Officers arrested Francis on charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and attempted criminal transmission of HIV, according to the affidavit.
It will be up to a court to order a test of the syringe to determine what was in it, police spokesman Mark Economou said. The result of the test would be shielded under medical privacy laws, he said.
While in custody, Francis acknowledged he had been using heroin, among other drugs, throughout the day and before the robbery. He first was taken to a hospital for an evaluation and then to jail, where he remained Tuesday, records show.
Lora couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.