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Cracking the Case: Uber driver helps investigators solve case

Posted at 6:21 AM, Feb 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 10:42:30-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. -- It's not unusual to see a crime story during our newscast or on our website, but in our "Cracking the Case" segment, we're focusing on unusual crimes: the unique stories of how you or your neighbors are helping investigators.

The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office said an Uber driver was recently key in helping them crack a case.

William Fischer said he was driving for Uber for about six months and loved the job. He said it got to the point where he had some regular customers; one of those regulars was Scott Humbert.

"He was a nice guy! He was real nice. We actually became sort of friends," Fischer said.

On one trip in November, he picked up Humbert and took him to Lone Star Pawn in Port Charlotte. "He had some jewelry and some kind of instrument or something he wanted to pawn," Fischer said. "I was looking for a guitar case myself, so I went in with him."

"He was in there quite a while," he said. "He came out and said everything was good, let's go, and we went home."

A few days later, Fischer got a phone call from his son.

"He calls me and said 'Dad, what did you do?' and I said 'Why?" and he said 'Well, your face is all over the Sheriff's Office page," Fischer said.

When Fischer went on Facebook, he saw his own picture, along with Humbert's, posted to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Facebook page in reference to a theft. The post asked anyone who knows who they are to contact the Sheriff's Office.

"It was a horrible feeling, especially for that. I've never done a thing in my life, so it was a shock to me," Fischer said.

The Sheriff's Office said Humbert stole three pieces of jewelry worth more than $1,100 from the Lone Star Pawn.

"Sort of a distraction technique where you get the clerk busy on that, and then was left unattended for a little while by the cases, where he was able to remove some items," Charlotte County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Katie Heck said. "The footage was of the person committing the theft, but that person was also in the company of the older gentleman, and they weren't sure what the connection was."

Heck said within minutes, they were getting messages from people who said they used Fischer as an Uber driver, vouching for him and his character. Once Fischer saw the post on Facebook, he called the Sheriff's Office immediately, then went down to the station to answer their questions.

"Detectives worked through his Uber records for that day, and just were able to identify who the person was he had used him by the fare records," Heck said.

She said they immediately removed Fischer's photo from Facebook and arrested Humbert for grand theft.

Fischer said he had no inkling that day of what investigators say happened.

"You feel like you've been used and played with," he said.

Heck said this case is a perfect example of how much social media has changed the way investigators approach and solve crimes, by giving them an immediate reach to a lot more people in our communities.