HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – An Uber driver is accused of robbing an elderly female passenger he picked up at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in an elaborate plot that included an accomplice with a fake gun. His alleged accomplice is on the run.
Detectives with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office say Christian Kirby Noda, 21, picked up a 74-year-old female customer at the casino at 9 p.m. on Halloween.
The victim, Hayat Brancheau, asked Noda to drive her to her residence in Sarasota.
Noda told Brancheau he needed to check the air of his vehicle’s tires and stopped at 3939 N. Hwy 301, in Tampa.
While Noda was attending to his vehicle, a masked black male approached the vehicle and told Brancheau, who was seated in the right front passenger seat, to exit the vehicle and get back into the backseat.
Brancheau was in fear of her life and sat in the back seat.
Noda allegedly told her “Do what he says, he has a gun.” and sat in the driver’s seat.
Investigators say the unknown black male ordered Noda to drive the vehicle to several banks and withdraw money from Brancheau’s debit card while the unknown black male removed two $500 poker chips from the victim’s purse.
Noda and the unknown male drove Brancheau to a Speedway Gas Station at 12877 E. Hwy 92 in Dover. He then ordered Brancheau to get out of the vehicle.
The unknown male and Noda then switched seats and the unknown male drove the vehicle away.
Investigators learned that Brancheau’s debit card was used in several locations in Polk and Osceola Counties.
Noda allegedly told investigators that he was not a victim, but actually planned to rob an Uber passenger and told them he drove to Tampa from Orlando to find a passenger.
He said this plan “was his strategy” and his accomplice was armed with a replica firearm.
Detectives say there is no evidence at this point that Brancheau was targeted prior to leaving the casino.
Investigators say Noda had two of Brancheau’s missing poker chips with him.
Christian Noda turned himself in to authorities at the Osceola County Jail in Osceola County, Florida. He was charged with armed robbery with a firearm and armed kidnapping.
Anyone with any information reference the unidentified suspect is asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 247-8200 or anyone with any information regarding the identity of this suspect and who wants to be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report anonymously online at http://www.crimestopperstb.com or send a mobile tip using our P3 Tips Mobile application, which is a free download for iPhones, iPads and Droids. You must call Crime Stoppers first to be eligible for a reward.