Friday, February 16, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa police: Thieves hijacked Lyft driver, forced him to be getaway driver in string of thefts

Two Tampa men were arrested this week after a Lyft driver said he was robbed and forced at gunpoint to be their getaway driver in a multicounty crime spree, according to police.

Two accomplices in the 11-hour crime spree are still on the loose, police said.

Tampa police arrested Willie David Brown III and Aaron Milford Diggs, both 18, on Wednesday on charges of armed kidnapping and robbery with a firearm.

The Lyft driver, Manuel A. Araujo-Diaz of St. Petersburg, told police that Diggs, Brown and two other men requested a ride through the Lyft smartphone app Tuesday night. Araujo-Diaz arrived at 3208 E Diana St. in Tampa around 10:45 p.m. and was met by a black male on a bicycle who asked him to drive around the corner to pick up his friends, according to arrest reports.

When the four men entered Araujo-Diaz's four-door Mazda, Brown pointed a silver and black handgun at him. The driver told police he feared for his life, according to arrest reports.

Brown demanded that Araujo-Diaz drive the men to multiple locations throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas and Polk counties for about 11 hours, police said.

During that time, police said, the four men committed multiple retail thefts and broke narcotic drug laws while holding Araujo-Diaz against his will. Before allowing Araujo-Diaz to drive back to E Diana Street and drop them off in the 3400 block, the men stole about $130 from him, police said.

Shortly after dropping the men off early Wednesday morning, Araujo-Diaz saw a Tampa police officer and told him of the night's events. Brown and Diggs were found at a nearby basketball court, at 6410 N 32nd St., and arrested around noon on Wednesday after Araujo-Diaz positively identified them to police.

Tampa police are still searching for the other two men.

Friday night Diggs and Brown were still being held in the Orient Road Jail on $100,000 bail.

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