He says a rideshare driver left with his valuables; Here's how to protect your possessions on a ride

NBC Universal, Inc.

Tens of millions of Americans use rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft to get around. Thousands leave stuff behind, including one frustrated man who asked the NBC Bay Area Responds team for help. 

You’ll want to remember his case so you don’t forget something on your next ride.

Arthur Weiss’ 45-mile Lyft ride from San Jose International Airport to Nob Hill in San Francisco started just fine. 

He loaded his bags into the trunk of his driver’s car and they headed north, just like hundreds of other trips he’s taken.

“All my rides were pleasant,” Weiss said. 

But when this trip ended, Weiss was at a loss. Literally. 

”As I got out to remove my baggage from the back of the vehicle, the driver took off,” Weiss said. 

He chased the driver up the street, then messaged him to tell him his bags were still in the trunk. 

“[I]got no further response, I had to go to a dinner after and there was still no response, and I kept sending texts,” Weiss continued. 

Weiss messaged Lyft, too. 

It told him to file a police report. He did. 

Later, Weiss says Lyft told him the driver claimed the bags weren’t in his trunk. Lyft also said it doesn’t insure rider’s belongings. 

“My problem has been what I think is a lack of good customer service and not really working to make the customer happy or to resolve their issue,” Weiss said of the situation. 

Arthur estimates he’s out $3,000. So he contacted NBC Bay Area Responds for help. 

When airlines find lost bags and such, they store them -- and eventually, sell them at a clearinghouse if they’re unclaimed. Same for BART, forgotten stuff is cataloged, held, and eventually sold if no one claims it. 

So, what happens to lost items at Lyft? We asked. 

Chiefly, we wanted to know what Lyft requires drivers to do if a rider leaves something behind? What happens if they don’t follow that policy? Or ignore riders like Weiss? 

Lyft said the same things it said to Weiss and noted its drivers are independent contractors -- different from BART and the airlines’ staffing. 

Lyft also said, “If the police reach out to us with the proper paperwork via email, we’ll assist them in any way we can.”

San Francisco Police Department only said Weiss' case is still open. 

So, still no bags, even with our intervention. 

“I do appreciate everything you have done and NBC has done to support me through this journey,” Weiss said. 

We wondered what Uber’s policy is. But it didn’t respond to us for this story. 

Like Lyft, Uber’s website says you can message your driver, though it’s not responsible for items you leave in a vehicle. 

But Uber does track those forgotten things and even publishes a yearly “Lost & Found Index.”

The most common items forgotten include clothes, phones, backpacks, and purses. Uber says it got more lost item reports on April 5 than any other day, more than 1,000 of them.

Besides many other curiosities in the index -- like 40 pairs of dentures reported lost in Ubers last year -- there’s some useful info to help you, too.

In 2022, Uber found people were most likely to lose stuff on Saturdays and Sundays. So, be extra mindful of your stuff when ridesharing over the weekend.

Weiss has a parting practical tip for you too. 

“Moving forward, if someone is getting in and they have something of value and it's in a purse or a briefcase or a tote bag, I would highly recommend they take that with them to the back seat so their hands are on it at all times,” Weiss said. 

Two more things we want to drive home: 

  • Consider a WiFi tracker like an Apple Airtag for your bags. In some well-publicized cases, airline passengers located their lost bags that way. 
  • See if your insurance will cover you. Some phone protection plans cover loss. Try your travel insurance if you’re on a trip. If your ride is local, consider a claim under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Arthur considered that, but ultimately just moved on and wrote off his three-grand loss. 

Have a consumer complaint? Let us know, so we can help.

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